Montgomery Drive-In

9750 Montgomery Road,
Montgomery, OH 45242

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Previous Names: Drive-In

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Montgomery Drive-In

With the opening of the Drive-In in 1940, it was to be Cincinnati’s first ozoner in the area and one of Ohio’s earliest outdoor theatres. It was advertised as having one of the areas' widest screens, and was heralded by the community. Events from weddings to Easter sunrise services were held at this popular gathering place where many local teenagers got their first jobs. There was a a large kiddies playground, the grounds were well landscaped, and the Drive-In offered a concession stand. The Drive-In opened screening the 1940 comedy/musical/romance “It’s a Date” with Deanna Durbin, Kay Francis, and Walter Pidgeon. It was owned and operated by Phillip Smith (dba Midwest Drive-In Theatre Inc. and Phillip Smith Theatrical Enterprises aka Smith Management from Boston, MA). It had a 600-car capacity on 11 parking ramps with individual speakers for each car. The $75,000 screen tower was 110ft high and the screen was 60ft x 50ft, and said to be the largest in the Midwest. St. Louis' Bumiller and Meyerseick Contractors performed the building of the screen tower.

When the Drive-In reopened for the 1950 season it was renamed Montgomery Drive-In. Also in 1950, members of the military got free admission. A lot of theatres did this during World War II, but you had to be in uniforn. A fire which began a 01:30am, August 29, 1950 did what was estimated at $30,000 damage to the screen tower. The electrical fire started in one of the locker rooms at the base of the screen tower. Jack Hauer, theatre manager said “it sounded like a bunch of firecrackers going off” as the fire consumed the screen tower. It was rebuilt with a twi-light screen to allow earlier starting times and operated another 25 years. In the mid-1960’s to the 1970’s the Montgomery Drive-In featured electric heaters for winter time operation. After 35 years in operation General Cinema Corp. (dba Smith Management Corp.) closed the Montgomery Drive-In at the end of the 1975 season for good. The Montgomery Drive-In likely operated on an initial 15-years lease and renewing for one more 20-years lease closing in 1975. It was later demolished and replaced by a car dealership and residential housing.

Contributed by Randy Studer, dallasmovietheaters

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

DavidZornig on March 16, 2017 at 10:02 pm

Circa 1948 photo & description added courtesy of Jim Robb.

An Easter sunrise service at the Montgomery Drive-In. The photographer was standing on top of the screen. Note the choir and ministers on the roof of the concession stand.

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