Free Christian Drive-In

1775 W. Broad Street,
Columbus, OH 43223

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Free Christian Drive-In

As the name implies, The Free Christian Drive-In (also sometimes referred to as The Christian Free Drive-In) had free admission and showed Christian films. Persons would come around to the cars to collect donations. Persons would also reportedly patrol the lot with flashlights to make sure no unchristian activity was going on in the cars. The drive in was operated by Jimmy Rea who ran Jimmy Rea Electronics in downtown Columbus. It was closed on August 25, 1996. Mr. Rea passed away in 2015. The screen has become badly damaged.

Contributed by Michael Dean

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Mark_L on July 20, 2021 at 12:43 am

The address of 540 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215 is the address of the building that housed Jimmy Rea Electronics. Mr. Rea was the founder and operator of the Free Christian Drive-In. The actual location of the drive-in was given as “One block south of 1900 W. Broad”.

50sSNIPES on July 20, 2021 at 11:03 pm

The theater closed between by or during the 1990s. The screen itself sat abandoned for many years, and started to fall apart throughout. The pathway was demolished around that time. The earliest clear shot I can take is a 1994 shot.

Mark_L on July 21, 2021 at 2:22 am

I think I have tracked down the exact location of the Free Christian Drive-In. It was located at the corner of Rea Ave. and Columbian Ave.

Contemporary ads show an address of 1920 Hunt Ave., but that address no longer exists.

While it is impossible to give an exact address since that is a large vacant area, I would say that “1920 Rea Avenue” would be appropriate.

Jimmy Rea owned that land for many years, and it is now owned by Nature Preserves LLC. Only the damaged screen and one pole with a speaker remain.

Mark_L on July 21, 2021 at 2:23 am

The final mention of the Christian Free Drive-In from the Columbus Dispatch was August 25, 1996.

The original screen was burned down on March 31, 1986.

Jimmy Senior died in 1993, with Junior passing away in 2015. Both were good men.

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