Showing 101 - 125 of 170 comments
Thanks for the trip down memory lane Juan! I love hearing anecdotes and stories about our drive-ins. I worked at the Dale Mabry Drive-In refreshment center (Dale Mabry and Gandy) in 1969 and have a few stories of my own. Those were fun times! I drive by the Tower property at least once a week thinking here’s a beautiful piece of land that still sits abandoned. I still wish they had never demolished the drive-in. Although I didn’t frequent this theatre often (I live on the opposite side of town) I remember going several times from the late 1960s through closing.
The Floriland was the only drive-in in town I never had a chance to visit. A friend of mine was a relief operator there during the 1950s. His wife tells me she went with him every Friday evening and watched the movie from the car while he worked the booth. She said they had the best cheeseburger baskets with fries for only 99-cents. They both loved the Floriland. She said it was the best drive-in in town and only a 5-minute drive from their house. When the Floriland ran “From Here To Eternity” there were so many cars lined up on Florida Avenue that a cop had to direct traffic.
After the Floriland closed a grocery store opened next to J.M. Fields. I think it was called Pantry Pride. In the early 70s these buildings were absorbed into the new Floriland Mall anchored by Zayre department store at one end and Montgomery Ward at the other as well as a two-screen theatre called Floriland Cinema 1 & 2. The mall closed years ago and became an indoor flea market for some time, and later a city/county government center. Hillsborough County’s traffic court and a branch of the tax collector’s office were located here. I think most of these offices are now closed and the complex is nearly empty.
Today it’s impossible to tell there was once a drive-in theatre on the Floriland Mall property. Such is the case with so many former drive-in properties now completely obliterated by new developments.
I bet you never ran so fast in all your life! And for the next few evenings you were probably hoping this guy wouldn’t remember you if he ever showed up at the drive-in again…lol!
Thanks Joe for the drawing and additional info. Evidently the Ritz was also known as the Rivoli at some point during the early days. I remember seeing a photo with the Rivoli sign on the building. The drawing is very intriging. It may have opened as the Haya and was later changed to Rivoli and finally Ritz. Or possibly Haya was never used. Probably the only way to determine for certain is checking the city directory to see what’s listed at that address around or about 1917. I’ll put this on my to do list.
Thanks Juan1941. Nice to hear comments from a former employee which you seldom see for theatres in this area. I feel the same way every time I drive by the deserted lot. Plans for constructing a hotel on the property fell through years ago. They should have at least waited until the plans had been finalized before demolishing the screen tower and concession building. If the screen and concessions were still standing the drive-in could very well have been reopened and still be in operation today. I understand the Fun-Lan continues to do good business so the Tower should certainly have been able to survive.
Mike, I ran into the same problem here in Tampa. I was shocked to find no movie ads were published in the Tampa Tribune at all until just prior to 1920 as I recall. That would make it next to impossible to research local theatres that ran silent films. Who knows how many of these silent theatres we really had?
Thanks for the interesting find Mike! There was also one of these drive-ins in Pinellas Park, FL called Drive-In Cinema that showed only religious films. I had a chance to visit the lot just before the theatre closed a few years back. The booth was equipped with both 16mm and 35mm. Not sure of capacity but it was fairly small. Go to Drive-In Cinema in Pinellas Park to see a YouTube video of the drive-in by posted by FloridaDriveIns.
This photo is dated 1932. This was the typical Saturday matinee audience at The Ritz even through the early 1960s.
Well you never know Mike. If you guys had the funding and permission from the city I bet she’d jump at the chance to reopen Regency 8. Bet the clean-up cost alone would be staggering not to mention other major repairs. Then again just like University 16, the theatre is not located in the best part of town. Is Regency already outfitted w/stadium-seating?
Thanks for the update Chuck! Finally some possible good news for this location. Had no idea that more high-end rennovations are in store for this venue. Evidently (from your description) the mall owners are greatly anticipating that Frank Theatres will eventually be the catalyst for a rebirth of University Mall. Cobb should have installed stadium seating when they did the add-on in the mid-90s so retrofitting is a must (if any theatre hopes to survive these days.) Unfortunately the one big drawback is the surrounding area. University Square Mall was certainly a “Destination Location” when it opened in 1974. I hope they can make it happen again.
I’m shocked to see this complex open again. I was certain it would either be gutted and rennovated for other use or demolished. Actually GCC opened this theatre in 1974 with two screens at the front of the mall and two at the rear. Cobb expanded the complex in the mid-90s with a new building housing an additional 14 screens at the rear incorporating the two original screens for a total of 16. The two screens at the front were closed when the new complex opened. I’ve always thought this was a very tacky 14-screen add-on that sits on support beams over a parking garage with cars underneath.
Mike, Thanks for checking with Bill and solving the mystery! You’d think the lady you spoke with at the Laney Museum (of all people) would surely have known the name. You can always rely on Bill Barkley for answers to just about any question on Augusta’s theatre history. Now hopefully CT’s editors will update the theatre’s real name for this page.
Thanx hispeed54! This is amazing. At first glance I thought this was the Hillsboro D/I in Tampa. The marquee, entrance layout, and screen tower are identical although the width on this screen looks to be just slightly less wide than the Hillsboro. The “Drive-In Theatre” neon target sign is also identical although the target design is more pronounced on this screen.
I saw “Titanic” and “Gone With the Wind” here. A friend told me just about the entire community of Lutz was there on opening day. Hard to believe a 20-screen complex with a life span of only 3 years. It’s understandable the theatre was said to be in an “underperforming location.” When Cobb opened Hollywood 20 much of the surrounding area was still underbuilt and underdeveloped. And Regal filing bankruptcy during that time doomed Hollywood 20 to a short life span.
Rivest266: Great nice size photos of this rare theatre! I had posted a link above showing these same shots but they were much smaller. I couldn’t enlarge them without losing a good deal of the focus. Thanx for posting. Not a bad set-up for a 16mm theatre.
Rivest266: Thanx for posting the nice ad. Is this from the St. Petersburg Times? I have the opening day ad from the Tampa Tribune which is much too large to scan. It’s a huge 2-page spread advertising both Loew’s Theatre and the opening attraction “Candy.”
Mike, If you haven’t yet searched the theatre listings on microfilm from Augusta’s major newspaper I would start there. If you have some extra time you may be able to find the name providing they advertised in the local papers. If not then this theatre’s name is destined to remain a mystery probably forever. I would began the search around 1935 and advance one year at a time from there. Good luck!
Rivest266, Floriland never became an AMC theatre. It opened under Budco and was later purchased by Cobb who added a third screen. Sometime before closing it again became a Budco theatre although not for very long. When it finally closed as a movie house it became a dinner theatre for a short while and was later absorbed into the Floriland Indoor Flea Market.
Horizon Park 4 opened on August 26, 1971 and closed on September 29, 1997. Remember Twin Bays 4 in South Tampa right behind the Britton Theatre? It also opened on the same day as Horizon Park 4 and ironically closed just one month later on September 28, 1997. Both theatres were open for just over 26 years.
Thanks for the nice photo Chuck. The house to the left of the theatre still stands today. The theatre was demolished years ago and the property sat vacant for several years. A building was constructed on the site just within the past few years. A friend tells me the Garden Theatre was originally a church. When the church closed the theatre opened with the church pews still in place and were used as seating for theatre patrons. They were eventually removed and replaced with theatre seating.
Thanx for the photo. The Hillsboro 8 was a beautiful and plush theatre when first opened. Yes, I believe the ad did have the tagline “Return of the Elegant Theatre” or something very similar. Matter of fact I remember copying the opening day ad. Will post it here if I can find it.
Welcome back Mike! Nice to see you on CT once again. Hardly ever see you on the site anymore.
Thanks John. The Tower signage was definitely one of the most original in town. Glad I was able to find the ad. The first time I visited the Tower was in 1968 when “Planet of the Apes” was playing. I’ll never forget the line of cars awaiting entrance which went down Bird Street towards Florida Avenue, wrapped around the corner on Florida Avenue, and went over the Hillsborough River bridge. Great times!
Mikeoaklandpark, The Tower’s screen was the standard size found in many drive-ins that didn’t have a Scope screen. But the worst one of all was the original screen at the Dale Mabry D/I. It was not only small but almost squarish and smaller then the Tower’s. Check the photo on the Dale Mabry D/I page and you can see how small it was for a drive-in the size of the Dale Mabry. It was finally replaced in 1964 with a larger & wider curved steel screen.
Mike, I haven’t seen you on CT for some time now…glad you’re back on!
Wow! I didn’t think the slope was that extreme but if cars were flooded that bad it was much worse than I thought. I also saw “Superman” here in 1978. It was one of the opening attractions at the Hillsboro after the theatre had been divided into two auditoriums. Do you remember the original large theatre before they sliced it up?
I hadn’t noticed it in the aerial before but you’re right. I see the Biff Burger and the playground behind it. On several occasions when I couldn’t convince my parents to go to the drive-in, I had my father drop me off at Biff Burger. From the playground you had a nice view of the screen. Sitting on the swings I watched as the cars lined up at the box-office wishing I was in one of them as they entered the theatre. Although you could barely hear the movie from the playground it was the next best thing to actually being inside the drive-in!
Dan, Here are two congratulatory ads including Cinchett Neon Signs that was published on the day of the Tower’s grand opening on October 22, 1952.
Thanks for the TampaPix link above. Sure brings back some great memories!