Could the McHenry Outdoor Theater’s Days Be Numbered?

posted by btkrefft on May 25, 2004 at 2:14 pm

McHENRY, IL — The 53 year-old McHenry Outdoor Theater, located in unincoporated McHenry County, between the cities of McHenry and Lakemoor, recently began its season, but like so many of the drive-in theaters of Chicagoland, the McHenry may not be around much longer.

According to this report from the Daily Herald, he stretch of Highway 120, on which the theater is located off, is quickly being developed, as land prices rise. Both communities, McHenry and Lakemoor, envision single-family homes and light business being built in the area.

Rob Schaid, a member of the McHenry County Realtors Association said, “[The drive-in property] is land that is ready for development…If it’s still a drive-in theater within the next five years, I’d be greatly surprised.”

Other drive-ins in the area, such as Palatine’s 53 Outdoor, the Twin in Wheeling, and more recently, the Grayslake Outdoor, which closed in 2000 (now the site of a shopping center) have all succumbed over the last several years, and the McHenry’s closure would leave the Cascade in West Chicago and the Hi-Lite 30 in Aurora the two remaining drive-ins in the Chicago suburbs.

Lakemoor’s village president, Robert Koehl, says the McHenry’s owner has expressed interest in developing the drive-in property, but admits the loss of the theater would strip away the uniqueness of the area. “It’s something that’s different out there. There’s really not too many drive-ins.”

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