Bennis Auto-Vue Drive-In

1900 N. Kankakee Avenue,
Lincoln, IL 62656

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Bennis Auto-Vue Drive-In

The 500 car capacity Bennis Auto-Vue Drive-In opened by Steve Bennis in August 1950. It was closed in August 1982. It has since been demolished.

Contributed by Chris1982

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

jwmovies on September 15, 2016 at 4:02 am

It closed before 2003. There is no trace of the this drive in in 1998 aerials. Topography shows there was a drive in there in 1987.

MichaelKilgore on February 27, 2019 at 4:08 pm

The Motion Picture Almanac first listed this as “Drive-In” in its 1951-52 edition, capacity 400, owners Steve Bennis, Gus Constan. The name changed to Auto-Vue (with hyphen) in 1952-53, and the capacity changed to 500 in 1953-54. In the 1955 edition, Constan was dropped, and that’s the way it stayed until 1977, when the owner changed to W. Bennis and the name changed to Bennis Auto Vue. The listing stayed that way through the final MPA drive-in list in its 1988 edition.

Strangely, the Theatre Catalog seems to have got it right from the first. Its 1952 drive-in list had the Bennis Auto Vue, owner Steve Bennis, though the capacity was 300.

The Winter 1996 issue of Our Times (Logan County IL) wrote that “Bennis was in the process of building the Auto-Vue … when the Lincoln Drive-In opened … in 1950.” Sounds like it opened in 1951.

An Aug. 5, 1988 article in The Pantagraph of Bloomington IL lamented that the Bennis Auto Vue was one of many central Illinois drive-ins no longer in operation. The last movie listing I could find in The Pantagraph for the drive-in was Aug. 28, 1982.

MichaelKilgore on June 15, 2019 at 9:19 am

An early inkling came in the Sept. 17, 1949 issue of BoxOffice:

LINCOLN, ILL. – Steve Bennis, theatre operator at Lincoln and Freeport, Ill., and Gus Constan, operator at Decatur and Danville, will build new drive-ins here and in Freeport. Both situations will accommodate 400 cars with a hold-back area of 200 to 300 cars to be added later.

MichaelKilgore on November 6, 2019 at 9:23 am

This drive-in’s first appearance in the Film Daily Year Book’s list wasn’t until 1951 (as the Car-Vue Drive-In). That’s not conclusive, but it’s another data point suggesting that the drive-in opened in 1950.

MichaelKilgore on June 17, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Here’s something closer to the opening date, plus an indication that this drive-in always had the same name.

The Exhibitor, Sept. 6, 1950: “In Lincoln, Ill., Steve Bennis held the grand opening of the Bennis Auto Vue drive-in. The 500-car drive-in has been equipped by the St. Louis Theatre Supply Company with deluxe RCA sound and projection equipment, and RCA in-car speakers.”

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