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This location was built by Georgia Theater Company and opened in, I think, 1956. GTC was a big operator of drive ins in the Atlanta area and this was a standard looking build. I was only there once, in 1972, to check out the booth, but I never worked or saw a movie there. The booth had Simplex projectors and lamphouses that you had to push in the crank handles and crank to adjust the carbons. Sorry, but I can not remember the name of the brand. One odd thing was the presence of 6000' magazines on the projectors but no big reels, so it was still the changeovers every 18 minutes or so.
The feature the night I was there was “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” I remember the big Civil War battle scene looking especially impressive.
This location was closed in 1974, and the manager, Mr. Bill Stephens, was transferred to the newly acquired Parkaire Twin in Cobb County. The managers house which was located on the lot was moved to the Northeast Expressway Drive In. The manager at that location lived in a nice house in the base of the screen, but after twice being flooded out when the creek that flowed alongside the west and southern boundary of the drive in left its banks they decided to put the Bolton house at the back of the lot where the land was higher.
Too late. After the house was moved but before it was hooked up and ready to live in there was yet another flood in March of 1975 which also washed out the newly built ramps for the twinning project that was then underway.
“I went through all the microfilm at the library and wrote down every movie that ever played at the 41 Twin from opening in 1948 until it closed in 2001. That was hundreds of microfilm reels.”
I am not sure who actually wrote the above comment, but whoever it was deserves credit for their dedication. I have always enjoyed looking at movie ads up until the time when they started to change in the mid 80’s to a more phone book like listing to accommodate the new megaplexes, but some of those old drive in ads were a bit much for me at times. I was amazed at some of the titles they came up with for the horror and biker movies.
I went to this location many times as a youngster when it was the Wendler and Roberts Drug Store. The attraction was an old fashioned soda fountain in the back of the store. I think that the theater opened in 1968 or 69 as an “Adult Art” theater. The fare was European style art films rated X although from what I heard from the projectionist they were really soft R.
In 1970 they had a brief change in policy running the type of standard “art” that Peachtree Battle and Ansley Mall Mini Cinemas were having some success with. The premiere feature was something starring Lee Majors as a Viking. My only visit here was during this time and the feature was some forgettable Swedish art effort.
In less than a year it was back to the old fare and before long they were advertised as XXX. Most of what I know about the Buckhead I learned from the long time union projectionist there who left to come to Lenox Square when I was the manager there. He said that the ownership paid above market and treated the employees well since in those pre security camera days skimming was a big problems in operations like this that could be run by one person.
In total, this location was in business for about 30 years or so. It closed when Buckhead became a big weekend bar scene destination and was soon gutted for the first of several bars that would occupy the spot. In 2005, this whole area was assembled and demolished for the billion dollar Shops Of Buckhead development that was abandoned half finished when the 2008 recession hit. The space on the corner of Peachtree and West Paces Ferry which was originally The Millers Book Store and was rehabbed and incorporated into the new development might might include the space the theater occupied, but it is hard to tell now.
Based on further comments, I think that it is safe to say that when the drive in was demolished it was followed by Arlans (a K-Mart style discount store), then the building was used as the flea market, then torn down for the Lindberg MARTA station. The Hastings Nursery was always at the northwest corner of the Cheshire Bridge, Lindberg, LaVista intersection across the street from the now closed up Varsity Jr. Hastings later moved to Brookhaven across the street from the Cherokee Plaza but is now closed.
The Kiddie Land at Broadview Plaza was gone by the time my family moved to Atlanta but I remember the K-Mart well as it was the first two story discount store I had ever seen. It had a good layout as all of the yard, garden, and hardware was on the ground floor which opened to the back parking lot and allowed close up parking since most people parked in front in the Piedmont lot.
The GEX store mentioned in a previous comment was located on the I-85 access road between Shallowford Road and the old North 85 Drive In. The Richway store also mentioned above was located on North Druid Hills Road across from Briarcliff High School and almost next door to the old Georgia Cinerama Theater. I do not go into this traffic clogged area unless I have to and did not know that the Zestos was closed. It must have operated there for 50 to 60 years. The Sizzler Steakhouse mentioned by Will was a regular stop for me as a group of us would usually go there following the Monday morning managers meetings once Georgia Theater Company moved their offices from the Fox to Lenox Square. Last time I was in the area the old Shoney’s was still there in its derelict condition although someone has told me since that it has finally been torn down.
The only change I would make in any of these later comments is regarding the Great Southeast Music Hall. Actually, the theater was there first, opening in about 1969 with the addition of the Broadview 2 in 1972. When Weis sold out and #2 became George Lefont’s Screening Room, the old #1 became the music hall. It then moved in 1978 to the site of the old Cherokee Theater.
Lots of movie theater history at this intersection as well as many memories for those of us who grew up in this area. Now it is just a traffic nightmare occupied by big retail and office developments with nothing unique to distinguish them from countless other such developments around the city.
ljt: I am using this page in the hope of making contact with you regarding a comment you left on the page of the Howard Theater in Atlanta Ga. I have a friend who is very interested in the movie “An Atlanta Romance” that you mentioned in that post. He would like to know more about those articles and any other information you can supply on the films of Slim Brolund. If you get this you can reply to me at
This is in response to the comment made by ljt on December 16, 2010. You mentioned the Howard playing a move named “An Atlanta Romance.” I have a friend who is very interested in those articles that you mentioned and any other information that you might have on the movie. Hopefully you have the auto notification for comments turned on and will get this. If so please respond and I will supply contact information.
In 1980 this place was in a very run down condition and was run by Georgia Theater Company. When the Atlanta City Manager moved out of Lenox Square Theater and into the company HQ to be the new GM, he left behind a lot of paperwork that I had the pleasure of reading through.
One that I recall was a report he did on this theater. Everything from the dirty bathrooms to the peeling paint, lack of working speakers, uncut grass, and messy storerooms got a mention. The last line of the report sticks in my mind as he called it the dirtiest, most run down theater he had ever been involved with.
He included a long list of repairs and improvements that were needed to get the place into respectable condition, but I do not know if they were ever done. GTC was pretty conservative when it came to spending money on everyday necessities so they might have decided this location was not worth it.
This ad is from mid December 1970 and was for a two week filler booking leading up to the Christmas attraction which I believe was Alex In Wonderland, or maybe Brewester McCloud, I forget which. This booking was the first time I saw West Side Story, and what a great experience that was.
A couple of corrections. While it was in stereo, it was unfortunately not 70MM but 4 track 35MM mag. At this time The Atlanta still had the 36X95 foot ribbon screen with the 146 degree curve and while the 35MM image did not take up the entire screen, the deep curve always caused the edges to be out of focus. No matter, great movie.
Second, West Side Story did not have its initial run here, but just up Peachtree at the Rhodes Theater. At that time The Atlanta was still the Tower, or may have been undergoing its reconstruction as Martin’s Cinerama. One other note about the tag of “Original Roadshow Version.” The print was in good shape but the projectionist did not show the image during the overture or the closing credits, only the sound. When I started working here a little over a year later, I asked when why they did that. The answer: save having to change the carbons as often. Even in a nice house like this you would still find people too lazy to do the job right.
Thanks for posting the ad.
KP: Very much enjoyed your memories of this theater. This place and your experiences are the poster children for dozens if not hundreds of what we thought of as megaplexes for that day. Looking through your under construction pictures reminds me of at least half a dozen places I started working in while they were in that state. One in particular reminds me of this place as it had 5 auditoriums, Dolby in one house, and Eprad 2 channel in another.
I can recall two new theaters where we were installing drink machines and unboxing lobby furnishings as people were lining up at the door for the opening day. In one case they opened one house while seat and booth installation proceeded in the others.
They were pretty bland places and in some cases were identical as the company would not waste money on giving the theater a personality when they could just build the same place on a vacant lot. Did make it easy on me when I had to fill in at different booths around town as most of them had the same equipment.
Good work Ken. I grew up south of Birmingham in what is now Hoover so I never made it out to this area although we did attend the Shades Mountain Drive In many times.
As to the source of the name, I have no idea. This location and the Carver Outdoor (not to be confused with the Carver Theater downtown), the Fair Park, and the Auto Movies No.1 were four independent drive ins that ran ads in the paper with this and the Auto Movies being the most consistent. All of the other drive ins and all of the neighborhood indoor theaters were operated by Waters Theater Company and after about 1966 by Cobb Theaters after they bought out Waters.
Here are a couple of links to the “This month in history” feature of the Birmingham Rewound site. Scroll down to the move section and you will see some ads for all of these locations.
In the 1955 Birmingham phone book, there is a listing for Acme Theater at this same address but with a different phone number from the Empire which is also listed. The website hsvmovies.com states that the Strand and the Galax which were located one block south on 2nd Ave. were operated by Acme Theater Company. Those two have an interesting history and at other times both took turns being known as the Newmar.
Opened in November of 1967, an odd time of year for a drive in to open even in the sunny south. The opening night program was “Rough Night In Jericho” with two co-features, “Deadlier Than The Male” which was a summer attraction at the Alabama Theater, and Rick Nelson in “Love And Kisses.”
Also on opening night, 10 Thanksgiving turkeys and 10 hams to the lucky winners along with performers from the Shrine Circus. AH, showmanship.
Thank you Greg for that fine comment. Entries like yours are the reason I wade through so much CT clutter in the hopes of finding such theater stories to compare to my own. I generally look through the comments of any theater 8 screens or less since stories from the megaplexes are so different from my memories.
In Atlanta, UA kicked out the projectionists union in 1990 although the way they did it got them slapped with an NLRB complaint and as a result the union got two more years. In 1972 I learned to run the projection equipment the same way you did although in my case it was the union projectionist who was tired of the work and was more than happy to let this enthusiastic young kid do the work for him. Lucky for me since I made a good living at it for the next 40 or so years. I still get the occasional call to run a movie at a film festival since most people working in theaters today have never even seen film much less run it.
I hope you will take the time to put more of your stories here.
It is probably more like a “2” missing in front. 8plexs were the standard GCC build in the 1986-88 era and there were 8 or so of them that were identical plans with the only difference being the on exterior caused by the nature of the individual locations.
If this is one of them then the auditoriums were probably arranged as two sets of four with the seating capacities of 378, 302, 220, 171. Times two of course.
Another note related to my first comment. An ad from August 1966 has a kiddie show at 10AM on Saturday. It was playing at Eastwood, Capri, Fairfield, and College. Apparently all of these were Waters Theaters. On the CT page for the Capri, the intro consists of a mention of these Saturday morning kiddie shows.
On the CT page for the Homewood Theater, also run by Waters, I mentioned in my comment that I recall attending several kiddie shows there although my recollection is that they were on weekdays. That would have been 1960-62.
This is a link to the Birmingham Rewound website which offers a fine history of Birmingham mostly via old newspaper articles. This entry for June of 1966 shows some movie ads with a “ladder” style ad which includes the Fairfield. It shows the current attraction as “Battle of the Bulge” which was the Christmas feature at Eastwood Mall.
There is no theater company name on the ad but most if not all of the drive ins listed were operated by the Newman Waters Company which also operated the Eastwood Mall Theater as well as the mall itself. It is possible that Waters owned all of these theaters but did not include Eastwood in order to keep its first run and first class status distinct from the neighborhood and drive in trade. Or, it is possible that by this time they had disposed of these theaters.
This theater is an exact copy of the Parkside 8, later renamed Sandy Springs 8 that GCC opened in Atlanta in 1987. This is the CT page for that theater:
Compare the photos and it is hard to tell them apart. The independent that runs the theater now did the digital conversion and the place is still going strong after 30 years and four owners.
In 1988 GCC opened another almost identical theater the Hairston 8 in Stone Mt. just outside Atlanta.
In November 1965, while still operated by Waters, this location and its sister Fair Park, College, and Fairfield Drive ins presented the Birmingham premiere of the AIP classic “Doctor Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.”
I have never seen it, but when running the Drive Invasion dusk to dawn shows at the Starlight Drive In in Atlanta I did run an old preview of it that I found stored away with all of those Filmack drive in intermission classics. Although faded, it was in good shape and in scope no less. Very rare for those days.
The correct address for the Capri was:
2304 Center Point Road.
I do not know when it was built, but the first appearance in any of the papers I have looked at is in March 1965. The feature was “How To Murder Your Wife.”
Article in the local paper about running a preview for an R rated movie in front of Finding Dory. If you read into the article it seems that they might have decided at the last minute to add a house for Dory and then started the previously scheduled R rated movie instead.
I am sure that many of us who worked in theaters have similar stories to tell.
“I saw some similar shows there, for example something set in a swamp with Claudia Jennings and many alligators…”
That would be “Gator Bait.” Great drive in movie. Ran it at the NE Expressway Drive in in Atlanta with its co-feature of “Unholy Rollers” which was another Claudia Jennings movie we had run a couple of years earlier. Those were the days.
Mike, I think that the date is wrong on this one. Cactus Flower was a Christmas 1969 release and Airport was summer or spring of 1970. Boatniks was also a 1970 release.
In a follow-up to the comment of David Zoring on 2/22, I read recently in the AJC the Larry’s body is still at the county morgue, unclaimed. I know that I grew up in a different era, but you would think that the Fox would cough up a few bucks to have him cremated. After all, he was the organist for 20 years or so.
I would say that they should put the urn on the organ lift and let him ride up and down for eternity but they would never go for that. I can also see that they might worry about precedent, but still….
It has been about 8 years since I have worked the Fox, so I am not familiar with the culture there now, but there was a time that if management refused to get involved then the employees might have taken up a collection. Just as with the whole Joe Patten eviction saga, a sad commentary on the way things are today.
Don, Good to see that you have found this site. I will contact you soon. In the meantime, if you have not already done so check out the Screening Room (Broadview) page. I am sure you remember that engagement. Also, the Silver Screen (Peachtree Battle) one as well. I think that Heather was there when that one ran.
The status of this location should be changed to “Closed” probably for eternity. Roughly speaking, the original mall theater lasted about 25 years, 10 as a 1000 seat single and 15 or so as a twin. This parking lot location lasted about 15 years total although it was closed in between some of the different owners.