East 70 Drive-In

12600 E. Colfax Avenue,
Aurora, CO 80011

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compassdriveins
compassdriveins on July 12, 2004 at 11:44 pm

The Compass chain was a division of the Wolfberg theatre chain. The East was actually a project of Mr. Leonard Albertini. He purchased the franchise rights from PARK IN THEATRES (Richard Hollingshead) for the Denver terratory. Originally from California, he moved his family to Denver to open the Denver drive in (East drive in). When one of the partners left the group, John and Ruth Wolfberg bought into the venture. From there, the South, West and Valley drive ins were built by the group. The North was a rebel drive in which was actually built by a Utah man. Opened as the MOTORENA, it was not a franchised part of PARK IN and was forced to sell to Wolfberg. They renamed it the North. Wolfberg (Compass) also built the Arapahoe, and North Star (1600 car capacity). The Wadsworth and Havana drive ins were built by a family named Kochrill. They owned the Denham theatre in 16th st. Vera Kochrill sold the drive ins to Wolfberg after her husband passed away. The curved screen at the Wadsworth was not the original…the curved screen was new for the 1959 season and was a process called MANCO VISION (I have a chunk of it) and was made out of aluminum. Supposedly it was 300% brighter than a normal white screen. The Nor West was built and operated by a man from Spearfish S. Dakota. He leased it to Commonwealth in it’s last years. The Lake Shore was built by Civic theatres of Kentucky on what was landfill from Sloan’s Lake. The Cinderella, and the West Colfax were built by Highland theatres of Longmont. All the drive ins in the Denver metro area were operated by Commonwealth (later United Artists) except for the Centennial, Evans,and 88th. All the major members of Wolfberg Theatres have now passed away except for the original founder of the Denver drive ins…Leonard Albertini. I would be happy to answer ANY questions on Denver theatres……. ESPECIALLY the beloved drive ins!!! :)

Kurent
Kurent on June 12, 2004 at 12:47 am

I worked at the North Star drive-in in the late 70s which along with the Wadsworth were two others in the Compass chain. I think the North Star had a capacity of about 1700 cars and the Wadsworth had a curved reflective screen and an indoor seating area (although it wasn’t used for years before the theatre was closed). The NS was torn down to make room for a very large electronics store and there is a Sams Club and Home Depot where the Wadsworth used to be. The Monaco was an airport parking lot until Denver moved the airport and now has new industrial buildings on the site. The North is now a city park.
Compass Drive-Ins were part of Wolfberg Theatres, Denver. I think they sold out to Commonwealth theatres in the late 70s or early 80s. I would like to hear of any info of how the company started and what became of it.