Birthplace of Free Outdoor Movies, Meadow Grove, Nebraska, The Reel Story
posted by RodgerJordann on December 12, 2005 at 12:12 pm
MEADOW GROVE, NE — On June 10, 1925 for the first time anywhere in the world a motion picture was projected on the outside of a building (City Hall) in Meadow Grove, Nebraska. The businessmen of the community thought it would be a great idea to draw business into this small Nebraska village and it did. In 1925, this was several years before the Drive-In Theater developed by Holingshead in New Jersey in the early 30’s. The original place where these movies were shown is still there and the original arc-light projector is still there. An essay documenting this story has been entered in the, “Help Us Tell America’s Story” in Parade Magazine. The free outdoor movies were discontinued in Meadow Grove, Nebraska in 1967.
That’s not strictly true. There were a number of ‘airdomes’– open-air theaters, usually set up in vacant lots – in the nickelodeon days from about 1905-1915. Perhaps it was the first free outdoor screening, but I have to imagine there were scattered incidents (and i’m sure lots of people saw the movies at airdomes free from adjacent buildings)
Brian: You may be correct when it comes to ‘airdomes’, but when it comes to a specific place built for free outdoor movies, I believe you will find that it was Meadow Grove, Nebraska. I’m very interested in you 1905-15 sources. Of course we can all know that there were scattered incidents, guess there is absolutely no inevitable as long as there is a wilingness to contemplate what is happening. Thanks for your input! Since no one place has made this claim to date, guess Meadow Grove stakes claim to it!! Have a great Holiday!! Rodger Jor'dann, Baytown, Texas