Woodlane Drive-In

341 VFW Memorial Drive,
St. Robert, MO 65584

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Commonwealth Amusement Corp.

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Woodlane Drive-In

Located in St. Robert, to the east of Waynesville, MO. The Woodlane Drive-In opened on April 28, 1954. Car capacity was initially 280 cars. The drive-in was operated by Commonwealth Theatres and closed in 1983.

Contributed by Chris1982

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

jwmovies on December 7, 2016 at 6:05 pm

According to Driveintheaters.com, this Drive-in is now Sellers-Sexton Ford Lincoln Mazda. Topography shows there was a Drive-in at this location in 1985 around its closing. It also looks like the screen foundation is still on the property to the southwest of the dealership.

The address for this Drive-in is now 341 VFW Memorial Dr, St Robert, MO 65584.

Please update.

MichaelKilgore on May 22, 2019 at 4:07 pm

There were occasional fly-in drive-in theaters, but the Woodlane is the only one I know to get its power knocked out by a plane crash.

The April 2, 1966 issue of the Springfield (MO) Daily News reported that a single-engine Stinson 106 was flying too low over US 66. It clipped distribution lines but kept going for several miles “with a power line trailing from its tail.” After breaking more power lines, including the one leading to the Woodlane, the plane crashed into two cars near the Fort Leonard Wood main gate and was destroyed by fire. Only minor injuries were reported, but the pilot was charged with “flying an airplane too low while consuming intoxicating beverages”.

MichaelKilgore on May 22, 2019 at 4:16 pm

An assistant manager, James Barnhart, was shot and killed by three soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood in an attempted robbery on July 20, 1960. The following February, the trigger man was sentenced to life in prison.

MichaelKilgore on July 25, 2019 at 2:58 pm

I believe this drive-in opened in July 1955. From the July 23, 1955 Motion Picture Herald: “The Woodlane drive-in theater, Waynesville, Mo., had its gala opening recently and the merchants of the city got together and ran a full-page advertisement in the Waynesville newspaper congratulating the management.”

The 1955-56 Theatre Catalog listed the Woodlane with a capacity of 280 cars, owned by Commonwealth Amuse. Co.

A “Drive-In” with no other information debuted under Waynesville in the 1955 Motion Picture Almanac. The next year, it was the Wood Lane, capacity 380, owner Commonwealth Amuse. Co. That’s how it stayed through 1976; the 1977 edition dropped the capacity of the “Woodlane” to 200 through to the final MPA drive-in list in 1988.

Did the Woodlane have a soft opening in 1954? Because of that 1955 MPA listing, it probably existed before February that year. And then there’s this cryptic one-sentence note, providing more questions than answers, in the Dec. 25, 1954 issue of Motion Picture Herald:

“The recently constructed Woodlane drive-in theatre at Waynesville, Mo., and all sound and concession projection equipment was destroyed recently.”

MichaelKilgore on April 16, 2021 at 6:23 pm

Looks like the Woodlane had more than a soft opening in 1954, based on what I just unearthed.

The Exhibitor, April 28, 1954: “The new Woodlane Drive-In, Waynesville, Mo., had a grand opening at which balloons were given to the children, flowers to the ladies, and cigars to the men. Prizes were given to the oldest person present, the car with the most people, and the oldest mother or father present. Commonwealth Company, provided a free playground for kiddies.”

50sSNIPES on March 17, 2024 at 9:12 pm

On July 20, 1960, the Woodlane Drive-In became statewide headlines following the assassination of 20-year-old James Barnhart in an attempted robbery led by three negro soldiers. The soldiers were soon identified as 24-year-old Julius A. Thompson of Anderson, Indiana, 28-year-old Marcus Thomas of Springfield, Ohio, and 25-year-old Cleavester Smith of St. Louis, Missouri. All three were charged with first-degree murder, and held without bond for Pulaski County authorities at the Laclede County Jail in Lebanon, Missouri. After the murder happened, the three men jumped into a car that was traced through the license plate. Thompson was soon arrested after hanging out with his girlfriend at her house where Waynesville Police deputies found him hiding under her bed. Thomas was arrested by the Missouri State Highway Patrol while Fort Leonard Wood Military Police arrested Smith.

In October 1966, resident Craig Crawley was blown through the ticket booth door at the theater attempting to rescue his wife.

MichaelKilgore on March 18, 2024 at 3:23 pm

Although typical for the segregated times back then, the unnecessary inclusion of racial descriptions goes against today’s journalistic standards. My note from May 2019 covered the incident as was relevant to the drive-in.

I presume Craig Crawley’s adventure was related to the tornado that ripped down the Woodlane’s screen in October 1966.

And thinking of unusual drive-in names, I believe Missouri’s Woodlane is truly unique.

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