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This is hands down the best drive in I’ve ever been to. NO contest. Triple features, huge screen, great sound (fm stereo) and at least one 1st-run new release event movie all summer, plus a family film and usually a racier comedy or a horror/thriller as the third show.
And low prices. And great snack bar. Been in continuous operation for 50 years. My wife and I live in the DC area (an hour away) and it’s worth the drive. I recommend it to anyone who loves the drive-in, and anyone who’s never been, but wants to try the experience- it’s the best.
Chiefehrman: They have that one-way ramp device now. Mr. Vogel Senior just passed away a year ago and his son is now running it, and doing a bang-up job.
This is a fantastic Drive-In theatre for people in the South Bend area. Spent many a happy night here with friends. They always seem to get a good selection of movies.
This theater has an interesting history. The original name, The Strand, was selected in a contest. It was the first theater in South Bend built purely for films. As such, it hasn’t been too marketable to theatre groups and such in the present day, like many old theaters.
It was first relaunched in 1949 as The Avon. Then, in the 50’s (1959?) as the Avon Art ( showing a lot of French New Wave and “Art films”). It then degenreated in to a Porno Theatre in the 1970’s, when it died a slow death with the rest of the downtown after a bizarre policy by Mayor Allen of
1) jacking up business taxes and driving stores to the malls and neighboring towns
2)putting in a bunch of one-way streets that prevented anyone from easily going to the remaining businesses
3)Paving over main street to make a “walking downtown"
4) Putting up dozens of parking garages where the businesses once stood
Since the mid-to-late 90s, the downtown nightlife in South Bend has revitalized (primarily because of ripping up Main Street and turnign it into a commercial center again) but the Avon has some serious problems inside.
I’ve seen worse, mind you- and the roof is in good condition. There is some water damage from when it wasn’t, however. Not too bad. City Estimates were in the neighborhood of $10,000 for new HVAC system back about 15 years ago. All the seats except for the balcony were ripped out in the mid 90’s to go to the grand old STATE theater down the street when it was brifly revived as a theater (it has since become a nightclub.
The worst feature of the Avon is its electrical system, or systems, I should say. It’s like a museum of electrical systems from 1926-1970. Nothing was ever removed, just added to. It would take quite a bit to get it up to modern code/regulations.
In theory ( I looked into it very seriously) one could turn it into a functioning theatre provided you could transfer a liquor liscence into it, and serve alcohol. On sundays no alcohol in Indiana, so you’d have to do kiddie shows and get families.
The city of South Bend was very helpful in putting together business models and offered to give to purchaser a three-year property tax abatement. There were also many other incentives from the Indiana Historical Society, National Register of Historical Places, and it was in a business “Redevelopment Zone” which carried some tax benefits.
If someone can set up a distirbution deal for /cult/classic/arthouse/revivial (non mainstream) movies there, get an alcohol liscence, some new projector/sound equipment, and the money for an electrical overhaul- you could have a nice, historical movie bar – and the city would be happy to see someone develop the property and help you out.
This is one of the older drive-ins ( I was told built in 1949, before the Drive-In heyday of the 1950’s) and is still in operation. It’s a fun night out for many families in the area. It draws its name from the two highways that are nearby (Rt 13 and Rt 24). It’s in a remote farmland area without much encroaching development, which is probably why it hasn’t been turned into a Wal Mart or such. One of the few benefits of being in rural Indiana are the numerous drive-ins. :)