Pleasant Valley Drive-In

47 River Road,
Barkhamsted, CT 06063

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MichaelKilgore on August 3, 2023 at 3:07 pm

I am so confused, although that’s normal. The trade publications talked about Youmatz’s People’s Forest, but the first ad I could find in the Hartford Courant was for Rogers Corner.

Rogers Corner Drive In Theatre first-season adRogers Corner Drive In Theatre first-season ad 09 Sep 1947, Tue Hartford Courant (Hartford, Connecticut)

On the other hand, a Courant note on March 22, 1956 included the tax assessment for the “Peoples Drive-In Theatre”. Maybe that was just its corporate name?

MichaelKilgore on April 2, 2023 at 7:18 pm

Today I started digging into the history of the People’s Forest Drive-In, only to realize that it was (probably) the future Pleasant Valley.

Film Daily wrote on May 27, 1947 that the People’s Drive-In Theater Corp. had formed, Vincent W. Youmatz of Winsted, president.

The People’s Forest Drive-In, owned by Youmatz, was described as between Hartford and Winsted on US 44. On May 22, 1948, Boxoffice wrote that Youmatz would “reopen his People’s Forest” in a few weeks. One week later, it wrote that he had opened it.

The Exhibitor magazine wrote in August 1948 that Youmatz had made a deal with a Torrington radio station to give away People’s Forest tickets. In September, it wrote that the “Rogers Corner” drive-in had settled with neighbors objecting to the drive-in’s loudspeaker noise, agreeing to close on Oct. 16.

In February 1949, the Exhibitor wrote, “When the Rogers Corner Drive-In reopens, in-car speakers will be in use.” Billboard reported two months later that it had reopened.

In 1951, Youmatz shifted his focus, building the Sky-Vue in Torrington and moving there to manage it, although the People’s corporation still ran the Rogers Corner.

The 1950-51 Theatre Catalog listed the People’s Dr. under Winsted.

In August 1966, Motion Picture Exhibitor announced, “The People’s Drive-In is the new name for the Rogers' Corner Drive-In, Pleasant Valley”. And if the above note from the 2017-owner is to be believed, it switched back again to Rogers Corner in the 1970s.

Dave Lounder THE DRIVE-IN THEATRE PRESERVATION SOCIETY on March 30, 2023 at 5:42 pm

The property that the theatre sits upon was sold, yes, but the new owners are going to reopen, after needed repairs and renovations can be made. The description should be changed from ‘Permanently Closed,’ to ‘Closed For Renovations.’ Thank you - Dave Lounder

ChasSmith on September 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm

I was involved in a special live performance presentation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Assassins” on Sept. 23, 2020 at the Pleasant Valley Drive-In, and I’m delighted to report that it’s a lovely property. I live only an hour away and it’s an easy drive, so I’m embarrassed to admit that this was my first time there. It will certainly not be my last. I look forward to next season when you can expect to see me back as a paying customer.

My thanks to the owner for accommodating the Warner Stage Company this week, and for your care of this beautiful site.

MichaelKilgore on October 5, 2017 at 6:48 pm

From the owner via private message:

In the 50’s it was the Peoples Drive In. It was changed to Rogers Corner when Don Heilbron bought it in the 70’s.

Brady Miller and his wife bought it in the late 80’s and changed the name to Pleasant Valley Drive In because Don had resorted to running X rated movies because people stopped going to the drive in and thats what brought the customers in. It took Brady 3 years before people started realizing it was a family venue again and only ran family movies.

I bought the drive in in 1996. This is my 22nd summer. Don Heilbron bought from original owners and Brady bought from Don I believe it was 1987 because he had owned for 9 years when I bought it.

MichaelKilgore on October 5, 2017 at 2:17 pm

That name of the Rogers Corner’s founder, co-owner and former president should have been Vincent J. Youmatz, who sued the corporation according to an article in the Dec. 3, 1949 Billboard magazine. “John Youmatz, Winsted, is the present president, with Louis Centrella, New York, as secretary.”

MichaelKilgore on October 5, 2017 at 1:28 pm

The 1948-49 Theatre Catalog listed the Rogers Corner Dr. in Bark Hamsted (sic), owner Vincent Yarmatz, capacity 300. The 1949-50 edition has the People’s Dr. in Winsted (5 miles west), same owner and capacity. By 1952, People’s was in Pleasant Valley, owned by L. Cintrella and V. Yarmatz. The 1955-56 edition showed it owned by just L. Centrella, capacity increased to 343.

The 1952-53 Motion Picture Almanac showed the Rogers Corner Drive-In in Pleasant Valley, owned by Peoples Drive-In Theatre Corp., capacity 300. It stayed that way through 1966. It became Rogers Corners in the 1969-76 editions. The 1982-88 International MPAs had it back to the singular Rogers Corner, owned by D. Heilbron.

A 2013 Hartford Courant article said McGrane had owned the drive-in “for 17 years”. A 2008 New York Times article said that McGrane bought the Pleasant Valley “11 years ago”. Both suggest the purchase happened a year or two after 1995.

The Times also mentioned that “In the ’70s, like many theaters, it survived by showing what the multiplexes couldn’t: X-rated movies.”

MichaelKilgore on October 5, 2017 at 8:32 am

There’s a superb story of the last weekend of the 2014 season with the current owner (Donna McGrane), the previous owners (Brady and Sally Miller), and the local guy who raised the money for the digital projector’s down payment (Travis Lipinski). The story’s at Entertainment Weekly of all places.

Scotty on June 16, 2014 at 9:56 am

Here is a link to their site so you can check out their weekly schedule! Pleasant Valley Drive In

Scotty on June 13, 2014 at 6:34 am

They went digital and the picture now is bright and super sharp. The sound went through an upgrade as well. It comes in deep and crystal clear over the radio!

bicyclereporter on September 10, 2013 at 7:03 am

i was in Cornwall Bridge in late July and saw a sign for movies on the gas station for the beginning of August for Wolverine and Turbo. I’m posting the pic now.

jwmovies on November 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Above address does not map properly. Use River Rd & Morgan Brook Rd.

movies10063 on September 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm

This place is great the McGrane family is friendly and make you feel at home its awesome getting a burger or fries at the concession stand the kids play ball or frisbee before the show reminds me of old simpler times they even play the old intermission snack ads between shows if your in the area support it its a piece of americana that needs to be treasured.

shoeshoe14 on September 4, 2009 at 11:44 am

Stopped by two days ago on a bike trip. Smart location, really nothing around but woods and watershed land.

shoeshoe14 on September 15, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Excellent article on this theatre in the NYTimes CT Section.

mondello1 on May 31, 2007 at 9:24 am

Roger wrote: >>shows second run movies. This is incorrect, eg they recently showed Spiderman 3 and Pirates 3 on their opening weekends. A great theater!

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on April 16, 2006 at 12:17 pm

I just took a ride by the area. The good news is: This theater WILL be re-opening for another season, beginning on April 28 and 29.

Jim Vecchio
Jim Vecchio on March 30, 2006 at 4:16 am

What a wonderful place to spend a summer night. There are only two things that disturb its old-fashoned atmsphere: (1) I wish they could have retained the speaker system rather than convert to radio frequency and (2) The movies of today seem oddly out-of-place. What we need are more films like “The Brain From Planet Arous”!

colinc77 on October 4, 2005 at 8:04 pm

The screen is a little dark but the sound was fine & the popcorn was great. A friendly place.