1957 USGS aerial from the Earth Explorer.
Taken on: September 10, 2011
Uploaded on: September 10, 2011
Size: 34.7 KB
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Subsec time digitized: 36
Artist: Mike Rivest
Date time original: Sat Sep 10 16:19:40 -0700 2011
Subsec time orginal: 36
Date time digitized: Sat Sep 10 16:19:40 -0700 2011
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The original Waterford Drive-In (there were two of them) opened in summer 1949, with a capacity for 750 cars. Corporation officers included president Michael Radin, vice-president William Rabinowitz, and treasurer Lorraine Forcier, all of Hartford, while the drive-in was managed by Sherwood Gloth. The original Waterford DI was located at Boston Post Road near the intersection of Clark Lane, near Woodland Grove Trailer Park and Fenger’s Hollow, on what was formerly known as Davis Field (referred to by most locals as The Circus Lot, due to the annual big-top events held at the locale).
In 1952, Amalgamated Buying Service became a business partner, with the operators listed as of 1955 as S. Gloth & Amalgamated. It was laid out much like the nearby Norwich-New London Drive-in, except the projection booth was on the left of the snack bar, the only area drive-in outfitted that way.
In 1970, Raymond C. Sroczenski took over the theater operations and applied for permits to move the lot down the hill, a bit further from Clark Lane, to a space approximately the same size, but with a smaller screen. The new lot also only had one direct access entrance from the main road (Boston Post Road, aka Route 1).
The old Waterford Drive-in locale was built over with a shopping center anchored by a Stop ‘N’ Shop that went up in 1972. The same shopping center also hosted Bee-Bee’s Dairy (later Newport Creamery) and the indoor Waterford Theater, run by the same United General Theater chain that built the exactly identical Cameo Theater in nearby Niantic at the same time. Carl Sherman ran both the indoor and outdoor Waterford theaters in the 70s.
The new drive-in locale was built in spring 1973, though construction and permit delays kept the drive-in from reopening until August 29, with a screening of Dillinger (“Free admission to the first 25 Ladies in Red!”) backed with The Little Cigars Mob. The downhill locale attempted to save the screen from the “light pollution” that ruined its original location, being in the middle of a rapidly growing array of shopping plazas on all the surrounding properties. The lights were blocked by homemade sheet metal shades installed around the drive-in parking lot lights. However, the drive-in was never able to get a bright picture on the screen due to all the nearby business and street lighting, and the downhill locale was frequently so fogged in that raindate “fog passes” had to be regularly issued to patrons unable to see the screen. The second Waterford Drive-In closed after the summer 1980 season.