Summer Drive-In

5310 Summer Avenue,
Memphis, TN 38122

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Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on January 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Nice pictures vastor!!

vastor
vastor on January 28, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Both of the drive-ins in this neighborhood now have photos and pages of their own.

ghsong
ghsong on November 30, 2010 at 2:29 am

mr wingo….the 51 drive in was actually north of town in millington. i had a really bad wreck pulling out of there when i was a teenager.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 8, 2010 at 12:10 am

MOvies playing in 1977 at the Summer 1 “WINTERHAWK” and"WALKING TALL" another crazy booking at a Drive-in. Ever here of Theme night? on Summer 2 one can watch “COACH” and “LAS VEGAS LADY” with Stella Stevens,Wonder where these flicks are today?

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 7, 2010 at 9:31 pm

NIce looking marquee.

calldon
calldon on January 17, 2009 at 7:26 am

OK, the first one was located in the north-east corner of Summer and White Station. The second one is the current location. I assumed they were the same owner/company but from reading here, it looks like two different owners. On the southwest side of that intersection on Summer was a sign saying THAT was the city limits in 1953. The first Holiday Inn was just to the west, before Mendenhall. I can’t believe Holiday Inn didn’t keep it as a museum or something.

gspragin
gspragin on July 24, 2007 at 3:45 am

My favorite drive-in was the Southwest Twin Drive-In. 4233 South 3rd Street – Hwy 61 Memphis, TN 38109. 1968 – 2000

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on July 10, 2007 at 1:12 am

Here is a 1948 photo of the earlier drive-in:
http://tinyurl.com/3bluxp

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on June 29, 2007 at 1:51 am

The first Summer opened in 1948. Operator was Kemmons Wilson, Mr. Holiday Inn. This drive-in should have its own listing. Car capacity was 670.

Easyrider
Easyrider on November 20, 2005 at 7:18 am

The original Summer drive-in was located at Summer and White Station
where the K-mart used to be. It had a gravel parking lot. At one time that was the eastern boundary of the city limits. My brother worked there during that time. Not sure when it was closed down.

gorkipk
gorkipk on October 30, 2005 at 1:20 am

Don’t forget the JAXON Drive-in on Jackson.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 8, 2005 at 11:03 am

This page from Memphis Magazine says the first Holiday Inn opened in 1952 at 4941 Summer Avenue, just east of Mendenhall. That would be a few blocks west of the older drive-in, and on the other side of Summer Avenue.

The page says that Holiday Inn was converted into a Royal Oaks Motel, then torn down in 1995 and replaced by a funeral home.

Backseater
Backseater on October 8, 2005 at 1:37 am

On further reflecdtion, the one on 51 South might have been called the Bellvue Drive-in.

Backseater
Backseater on October 8, 2005 at 1:20 am

The Summer Drive-In that I remember was definitely on the North side of Summer Avenue and East of loop 240. The very first Holiday Inn was in the same area, on the South side of Summer and West of 240. The first three Holiday Inns ever built were this one and two more on Highway 51, one North and one South of Memphis. Mr. Wilson was said to have gotten the idea from the 1940s Bing Crosby movie of the same name. I think all three had been sold and were no longer Holiday Inns by the 1970s. The Fare 4 quadruplex was also nearby, just West of 240 and on the South side of Summer Avenue, backing up to White Station. It was later expanded to a 10-plex. There was also a youth arcade or party center called the “Saturn” or something like that, very close to the Fare 4. If there were two Summer drive-ins as described above, that would explain why I remember hearing about it while a car-less Southwestern student in the early 1960s, whereas others remember it opening in 1966. The area became pretty run-down in the late 70s and early 80s, and some barbecue restaurants were converted to topless bars—but I wouldn’t know anything about that. Other Memphis area drive-ins included the Frayser, the 51 on South Highway 51 in Whitehaven, and one on Lamar Avenue near Getwell or Mendenhall and another on Park Avenue near East Parkway, which I’m still trying to remember the names of. Best wishes.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 7, 2005 at 11:19 am

Oops, wait, this is confusing. It’s the Summer Drive-In (closed in 1966) that was owned by Kemmons Wilson. Sorry about the confusion. Haven’t had my coffee yet.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on October 7, 2005 at 11:17 am

lostmemory, thanks for a VERY interesting link. I’d never heard of the Summer Avenue Drive-In. You’ll notice on the link (above) that it was partly owned by Kemmons Wilson. He’s much more famous as the creator and owner of the Holiday Inn chain. If I’m not mistaken, one of the first Holiday Inns (if not the very first) was on Summer Avenue not too far from the Drive-In.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 7, 2005 at 1:08 am

Those listings say that one of them closed on August 31, 1966 and the other one opened the following day, just up the street. This makes me wonder if Interstate highway construction was responsible for this drive-in being relocated.

Ron Newman
Ron Newman on October 7, 2005 at 12:29 am

Now I’m wondering if there used to be another drive-in in the same neighborhood, that got replaced by this one. The one I remember going to was on the north side of Summer, right around White Station, just west of I-240 (which was still under construction back then). This one seems to be east of I-240.

Backseater
Backseater on October 7, 2005 at 12:20 am

On the other hand, the article appears pretty sure of itself, and I suppose I could be wrong…it does happen occasionally.

Backseater
Backseater on October 7, 2005 at 12:18 am

I’m pretty sure it was operating in the early 1960s. I didn’t have a car then so I couldn’t go there, but I remember seeing ads for it as early as 1963-64. If so, it was only a twin (at most) at the time because I know it was years later that it became briefly a trio and then a quad. In the late 70s/early 80s on Sunday mornings I used to bicycle from the MSU area up Southern to White Station past the Paramount, then down White Station to Summer to the Fare 4, turn around in the Summer Drive-In entryway, then down Summer to Riverside Drive to Beale, make my “ritual circumnavigation of the Orpheum,” and then go back up Beale, Union, and Peabody to MSU; this took about 2 hours. Saw Angie Dickinson, Joan Prather, William Shatner, and Tom Skerritt in “Big Bad Mama” at the Summer. Also Stella Stevens and Stuart Whitman in “Las Vegas Lady” and James Ryan in a South African Martial-Arts movie called “Kill or Be Killed,” which was a cut above the usual “Chop-Opera.” Best wishes.

Will Dunklin
Will Dunklin on February 19, 2005 at 1:58 am

Legend has it that this was one of MALCO’s greatest business coups. The land – then at the far east side of Memphis – was purchased at a reasonable price. Supposedly, MALCO then sold off about half the property to the government as a highway right-of-way making enough profit to pay off the original debt and pay for the entire construction of the huge drive in. Basically they got it for free. That may be why the Summer is still operating.

Originally one screen, then two screens and now four, the sound system is now radio rather than the ever troublesome speakers-on-standards. Seeing all thos projection beams blazing from the centrally located concession building can still bring a smile.

The entrance drive winds into the lot between colorful neon (?) light fixtures straight out of “The Jetsons.” The projection/concession house is fairly unremarkable, but always a line to get more popcorn.