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This theatre was constructed during WWII according to a standardized design used by the Army on military bases throughout the country. Its appearance and layout were virtually identical to similar theatres on other military bases. It is likely that many of the young soldiers who laughed and cheered in this building did not return from their assignment overseas. Over the years I have felt that, as long as it may stand, this old building is a silent testament to them and the sacrifices they made.
Immediately in front of the screen was a grassy fenced children’s play area with some very simple play equipment and several park-type benches for the children to watch the movies. The children loved to go up there to play and watch the movie. Sometimes a parent or two would walk up there to keep an eye on things, but for the most part, the area was unsupervised by adults. Since it was an outdoors area, there were obviously loudspeakers located in that area for the children. I have fond memories of that area.
The picture looks like it was taken at an earlier time, perhaps back when the theater was called “The Victory Theatre”. I know my parents always referred to the theatre as “The Victory”, since that was the name they grew up with. If the picture was taken back in the 20s or 30s, the soda fountain certainly couldn’t have been named after the theater.
I never heard of the Palace Soda Fountain, and I don’t remember anything like that at the Palace Theatre. But, perhaps I just don’t recall it!
There is a second photo (photo link above), showing a distant view of the theatre among the downtown buildings in the 1960s.
Interestingly, although the International Motion Picture Almanac incorrectly used the spelling “Stuart” in its “Hinesville” listing, it correctly used the “Stewart” spelling in its “Pal Amusement Co.” listing.
I recently returned from a tour of historic cemeteries at Fort Stewart, and had the opportunity to talk with a number of old-timers from the Hinesville area. I was fortunate to talk with a man who not only was raised in Hinesville but who actually worked at the drive-in theatre, and he has confirmed that the name of the drive-in was “Stewart” Drive-In Theatre, NOT “Stuart” Drive-In Theatre. He said that the theatre was named for General Daniel Stewart, a Liberty County native for whom the military installation was also named. Hinesville is located in Liberty County, GA.
I am aware that the International Motion Picture Almanac always listed the theatre as “Stuart”, but this was really just a scrivener’s error that was perpetuated year after year, probably due to a lack of attention given to small-town Hinesville. In recent years, of course, Hinesville’s population has boomed due to the expansion of Fort Stewart.
The Stuart (or Stewart?) Drive-In was located on Oglethorpe Highway. However, according to Liberty County Tax Commissioner Carolyn Brown, the Brice Drive-In Theatre was located on U.S. 84. So they were two different theatres.
I’m not sure if your question is directed at me, but I added handbill photos to the following theatre pages: Cypress (2), Fun Lan (1), Skyway (1), Dale Mabry (2), Floriland Drive-In (1), Palma Ceia (1). I added these through each theatre page. Is that what you were asking? Dick
You’re welcome and thank you, Nick. This and several other handbills I ran across were items that appeared on eBay auctions over the past year or so.
This photo was listed on eBay as “Interior Strand Theatre 1920s”. It’s hard to read writing on photo, it doesn’t seem to say “Strand”.
I was stationed in Hinesville at Ft. Stewart back in 1964-65, and the drive-in theatre on W. Oglethorpe Hwy. was in operation back then. Are you sure the spelling for the drive-in’s name wasn’t “Stewart”? The name “Stewart” seems familiar. Back in those days, in small-town Hinesville, most of the businesses were named either “Stewart” “Coastal”, or “Hinesville”. Unfortunately, I can’t remember for sure, but I think the spelling was “Stewart”.
Thanks, Mike. I’m glad to hear from someone about it!
I have come across a photo of a playbill for the Harlem Drive-In Theatre that was located “1-½ miles west of Lakeland off New Tampa Highway”. It stated that it was “for colored patrons”. The period appears to be mid-1950s. Is that the same theatre as the Silver Moon?
A second photo has been added showing a handbill that does indeed show that the theatre was segregated at some point during its existence.
Man, does that bring back good memories!
Thanks, Nick –
Wonderful pictures! I note that Himes Ave. (to left of drive-in) wasn’t yet extended north of Hillsborough Ave.
Thanks for that link to the aerial, NYozoner! It answers a lot of questions –
Wow, what a great aerial! Thanks, NYozoner!
The aerial provided by NYozoner shows 4 different views of the drive-in site over a 38-year period.
One thing these views show is that the current east-west drive leading from Dale Mabry to today’s apartment complex is the same drive that led to the drive-in theatre entrance back then. The only thing different is that today’s drive includes median islands with trees, which I don’t think the old drive had.
Thanks for posting the map link, NYozoner!
Thanks for the additional details, Nick. I should have done more exploring during those lunch visits, but I guess you never fully appreciate something until it’s gone.
I was looking at a 1955 high school yearbook, and there was an ad from the “Florida State Theaters”. It listed the Tampa, Palace, Florida, Seminole, Garden, Springs, and Hillsboro Drive-In theatres. The ad used the spelling “Theaters”, not “Theatres” in the company title, but this was probably an error by the yearbook staff.
Yes, I wish they could have preserved the facade. What a shame.
That is a neat picture. I’ve stood next to that alley many times (when I was younger), waiting for the bus. The bus stop was right there where the alley was. Thanks!
A little bit of insignificant history:
When I worked downtown in the 1980s, the theatre (of course) was already part of the Maas Brothers Department Store. From the outside of the building, the “theatre appearance” had still been maintained. You could still very well think that you were walking up to a real theatre. Inside, a normal first-floor ceiling had been installed. When you walked inside the building (proceeding north), you followed a (north-south) aisle that had been created.
On your right (on the east side), running the full length of the aisle, were the display cabinets for the highly respected Maas Brothers Bakery, with passers-by stopping to purchase tasty desserts to take out. I don’t recall if there was a physical wall on the left of the aisle or just a wall of merchandise. The aisle proceeded to the rear where the former theatre building opened up to join the rest of the department store.
I also recall that on the mezzanine floor (if my recollection is correct), Maas’s had an informal restaurant and salad bar. I believe that most or all of the restaurant/salad bar was located over the theatre portion of the department store. If that recollection is correct, then it would mean that an elevated mezzanine floor had been constructed over the seating area of the former theatre.
As kids in the late 1940s, we watched Gene Autry movies and similar fare at the Strand Theatre. I don’t remember much about it from then, because I was too young. By that time it was no longer considered a first run theatre, but still a respectable place for kids and families to go.
Perhaps my recollection of the theatre on 22nd Street as being the Causeway Drive-In Theatre is incorrect. That was a long time ago, and I lived in another part of town.