Montrose Drive-In

4022 Medina Road,
Akron, OH 44333

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Montrose Drive-In

The Montrose Drive-In opened on July 3, 1948, screening the 1947 western the “Gunfighters” with Randolph Scott, Dorothy Hart and Barbara Britton. The airer was opened by Lawrence Tyrell and Co-Operative Of Ohio Inc., was the buying and booking agency. On July 16, 1950, the Montrose Drive-In was sold to Lee Ratener dba Montrose Theatrical Enterprises. In October of 1949, Ratener and Jerry Steele opened the Star View Drive-In in Norwalk, Ohio. In 1956 Steele bought out Ratener’s interest in the Star View. In 1950, Ratener and Vince Lauter opened the Magic Drive-In in Barberton, Ohio. The Montrose Drive-In supported Easter services at the drive-in with free coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts after the services.

Ratener also opened “The Freez”, a cold treats stand that was on the opposite side of SR 18 across from the drive-in. In the early-1970’s, Ratener considered adding a second screen when other drive-in theatres started to “twin” there drive-ins. In 1973 a fire destroyed his screen and also burned the architectural drawings for the addition screen. He just rebuilt his screen tower and decided not to twin the Montrose Drive-In. In the 1970’s-1980’s the drive-in had a flea market each Saturday and Sunday. Lee Ratener turned 78 years old and finally closed the Montrose Drive-In at the end of season in September 1986. The drive-in was demolished in April of 1987.

In an interview years ago with the West Side Leader, Ratener talked about what he saw in the area. “I had a tremendous belief in the future of the area because of the roads [Interstates] 77 and 71" he said. “This is the place to be". According to Tim Lance, of Copley, who started working at the drive-in when he was around 14 years old, “It was a family operation” Lance said of Ratener’s drive-in. “His wife, Yrma, worked with him day in and day out”. Ratener died February 4, 2009, in Naples, Florida, at the age of 101.

Contributed by Randy Studer

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

DavidZornig on July 23, 2019 at 9:07 pm

Per Akron History:

Sat on 44 acres. Closed September 1986.

davidcoppock on July 26, 2019 at 4:29 am

Is “The Freez”, the cold treats stand across the road, still there?

DavidZornig on July 26, 2019 at 6:39 am

Do a Google street view, and you will see the drive-in is now a Chili’s restaurant with a Barnes & Noble across the street. Scroll around from there, and you can see what other businesses are near where it was. There is a Stricklands II Frozen Custard at 3985 Medina Road nearby, but that chain was started in 1936 in Akron.

If you do a search of The Freez/Akron Ohio, only the below 2009 articles mentions it as having been sold by Ratener in the `70s. It also says the drive-in marquee was 66 feet tall, and that he opened the property to flea markets as well which proved to be successful. The second has additional history and photos of Lou Ratener and his wife Yerma at the box office which I uploaded to the gallery.

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