51 Drive-In

14027 IL-37 ,
Cairo, IL 62914

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Additional Info

Styles: Spanish Revival

Previous Names: Cairo Drive-In, El Patio Drive-In

Nearby Theaters

51 Drive-In

The Cairo Drive-In had a ‘soft’ opening on June 17, 1949 and officially opened on July 9, 1949. During the early-1950’s it was known as the El Patio Drive-In, the huge screen tower was designed with a Spanish theme as the name might indicate. This good-sized theater originally offered pony rides for children and also had a snack bar and modern-looking marquee. It was located off Route 51, for which it was later renamed by 1955.

The 51 Drive-In had closed by 1982 and has since been torn down. Almost nothing remains on the site today to indicate an outdoor theater ever stood there.

Contributed by bryan

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 26, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I think the screen tower still stood in the 80’s. I remember driving through Cairo around ‘84-'85 on the way to St. Louis. We passed a ruined drive in with seriously overgrown and crumbling screen tower. This is the only Cairo drive-in listed and so must be it. I’m even pretty sure the 51 name was on it.

jwmovies on October 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Approximate location for this drive-in was north of town on Old US 51 (now Hwy 37) NE of Patierdale Rd. Look for the large lot.

MichaelKilgore on June 12, 2019 at 1:31 pm

This looks like the same place. From the July 23, 1949 issue of BoxOffice: “CAIRO, ILL. – The 500-car Cairo Drive-In on U.S. No. 51 at Patierdale, a mile north of town, which had been operating nightly since June 17, had a formal opening on July 9. Fred Sullivan, owner, reports the cost was approximately $100,000.”

Sullivan also reported plans to build a second screen to serve a segregated section for blacks.

Kenmore on May 6, 2023 at 6:32 am

A 1967 aerial shows the drive-in intact and appearing operational. By 1982 it was still intact, but clearly closed.

The screen was gone by 1993 and the property seems to have become an auto salvage yard which lasted until roughly 2015. Today, there is really no trace of the drive-in remaining, although the property is now an open field.

Kenmore on March 29, 2024 at 5:58 am

A closer address is 14027 IL-37, Cairo, IL.

Google has updated their Maps and this address puts it right on the property.


You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater.