Spirit Drive-In

2200 17th Street,
Spirit Lake, IA 51360

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: March Bros. Theaters Inc.

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Spirit Drive-In

The Spirit Drive-In was opened on June 14, 1949 when it was operated by Phil March of the March Bros. Theatres Inc. out of Wayne NB. It was closed on September 16, 1984 with Dennis Quaid in “Dreamscape” & “Space Hunter”.

Since demolished, a Wal-Mart opened on the site on January 31, 1990.

Contributed by James Monroe

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

50sSNIPES on May 5, 2023 at 3:19 pm

Closed in the mid-to-late 1980s, and demolished in 1989. The Walmart at the former drive-in’s site opened on January 31, 1990.

MichaelKilgore on May 5, 2023 at 4:18 pm

The Spirit opened in 1949.

Des Moines Register, June 5, 1949: “Spirit Lake, Ia. - Construction is well under way on the Spirit drive-in theater at the intersection of Highways 9 and 71. March Brothers, owners of the Royal theater here and the Uptown at Arnolds Park, are building the theater. It will accommodate 400 cars.”

Estherville (IA) Daily News, Oct. 11, 1949: “‘Gone With The Wind’ was more than the title of the feature attraction at the Spirit Lake drive-in yesterday. It was also the fate of a section of the fence which was taken up by the wind storm and dripped on the attendance grounds. No other damage was reported. ‘Gone With The Wind’ was scheduled there for today and tomorrow.”

March Theatres probably owned the Spirit for its whole life, definitely through 1976.

Boxoffice, Sept. 6, 1976: “Wayne, Neb. - Jay Kohl, associated with locally based March Theatres for the past five years, has been named manager of the circuit’s Royal Theatre and Spirit Drive-In at Spirit Lake, Iowa.”

50sSNIPES on November 8, 2023 at 9:22 am

The Spirit Drive-In opened its gates on June 14, 1949 featuring installations of Super-Century Double Shutter projection and Soundmaster In-Car speakers.

According to then-owner George March of the March Brothers who also operated the Royal and Strand Theatres there, he was expecting 400 cars which was the theater’s total then-capacity number to participate the opening, but with a shocking surprise, a total of 550 cars loaded up on grand opening (with 150 cars on grass outside the drive-in property). Whenever the capacity goes over the 400 limit, March got a major idea on adding double exit ramps instead of a single one.

The Spirit Drive-In closed for the final time on September 16, 1984 with “Dreamscape” and “Space Hunter”.

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