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You can view pictures of this theatre located at this website:
This was the only segregated drive-in in San Antonio when first opened. After San Antonio became desegregated in 1954, the theatre was opened to everyone. It didn’t last very long, closing in the mid 60’s.
The original name, “The Drive-In”, for this theatre, was changed when The Alamo Drive-In opened a couple of years later to “Fredericksburg Rd. Drive-In.” At that time, it was the only drive-in right on the outskirts of San Antonio at the time, so they just named it with a basic name. This theatre also featured some X-rated movies around its end, along with the Lackland DI.
This was the second drive-in to be built in San Antonio, around the very early 1940’s. After the Drive-In closed, it was vacant for a few years, then became a flea market that I attended a few time in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The screen and all was already gone. It didn’t last too long and it again closed down for a few more years. Its then when the grocery giant Wal-Mart just recently built a Supercenter on the area that it once stood.
On an unrelated note: The old Seven Oaks Resort that was just next door to the theater was recently burned down by areson. Many movie stars and political people stayed at this once luxury hotel during the 1950’s. It was scheduled to be saved and restored to its once glory before the fire, but unfortunately the structure was considered a total loss.
The restroom and projection area also remain on this lot, along with the screen. The projection equiptment that was still in the projection area was recently sold by the owner.
The area has been taken over by a huge shopping area that includes Toys R Us, Office Depot, and Papa John’s Pizza. Entrance used to be across from the South Park Mall main entrance. This drive-in was also featured in Steven Spielberg’s “The Sugarland Express” movie. Goldie Hawn and her co-actor are hiding from police and if you look off to the distance you can see the screen and a couple of cartoons playing in this scene.
If you go to a small Burger restaurant right across the street from where it was, they have a picture of the old Park-air Drive-In in their window. Nothing fancy, just the lettering of Park-air in signature lettering with Theatre in front of the mural.
What’s odd is that there was an elementary school very close by to the area. Good thing was they had many lights around the area facing out towards the street, so that no one could see into the screen and parking area on the X-rated movies.
There is now a housing project that was built recently over the old area where it once stood.
This drive-in also included a playground area at the bottom of the screen. You can see these pictures at http://www.geocities.com/missy78214/circledi.html
Was told that there was a mural before it was changed to El Capitan from the original name “The Bluebonnet Drive-In”, which depicted a neon bluebonnet on the screen mural. Have never seen pictures but hopefully someday we will.
I read somewhere that a local Ford Dealership in SA restored the Neon screen right before it was demolished to shoot a commerical at the Trail when it was still up in the early 80’s. The front of the mural depicted a cowboy on a horse looking over the range in the desert. If you do a search on this drive-in on the internet, you may be able to see examples of the mural.
Back in the Day, the Varsity had a screen mural of a majorette in the front that said “Varsity” across the top in Neon. I believe she may have been tossing either a baton or a cheerleading horn (forgot the name of it) in the air with the neon flashing. That would have been a great sight to see.
Yeah, I read that the San Antonio Conservation Society tried to save the theatre, but at the time, a company out of Dallas, Texas bought the property and wanted to totally demolish the theatre. After several attempts from the SACS, the company declined any compromise, except only keeping the facade at the front. This is what they ended up with today. What’s also funny is that the Dallas co. that purchased the land and built in the first place doesn’t occupy the building anymore. Talk about not caring about something totally historical in this city.
One note though to update; I went by the old area and noticed that there was some construction being made to the old marquee a few months ago. When I returned a few days ago, the Texas label above the marquee was gone and they repainted it to look more modern. As of now, I don’t know where the section that was removed is now located or was placed, but I thought this was sad of SBC to do if they were involved. Maybe they are restoring it to hopefully put it back? Does anyone have any information on where it might have gone?