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btw hope this isn’t a copyright infringement but you can see the marquee @: http://digital.denverlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p15330coll14/id/1403/rec/5
I just viewed “Drive In Memories” with Leonard Maltin and Joe Bob Briggs (John Bloom) and googled this fine old drive in… Spent some fine evenings there!!! Great nostalgia! Anyone remember the Havana drive in across from the defunct Buckingham Square shopping center?
Also the Paramount Theatre, the Crest Theatre, Thae Arvada Plaza, were also part of the Wolfberg Chain. I worked at the Paramount Theatre from 1968 to 1978. I beleive they all went privately owned after the 80’s,not quite sure of commonwealth owning them.Allof the drive-in were under Wolfberg umberella for quite sometime except the Lake Shore Drive -in. Those were the good times.
Ask Ken If he would like a photo of the matchbook cover. I also have a matchbook cover for the Compass Drive In Theatres
I have a matchbook from East Drive In Theatre 12600 East Colfax is the address on the book “Across from Fitzsimmons Hospital” Phone Aurora 880. I also have a scrapbook from Denver from a person who managed the Broadway Theatre in the early 50’s.Lots of b&w photos including photos of the construction of a Drive In. It is labeled Valley Screen. Also in the book is photos taken of Jimmy Stewart filming “The Glen Miller Story” At Holland Hall? Also are photos of the Audience Awards Parade Oct.7 1955.I will be selling this on e-bay in a couple of weeks.Interested let me know.
Does anyone have a copy of the Compass Drive-In Jingle?
“There’s a Compass Drive-In right near you
With two big features- count ‘em, two.
Delicious food for all the family.
Kids under 12 are free.
Tonight at Compass Drive- In, it’s the place to be!”
I grew up in Edgewater and WR and we had FOUR drive-ins within 5-15 minutes of each other! The Wadsworth (I-70/Wads), the West (6th/Kipling), the Colfax (Colfax/Oak) and the Lake Shore (19th/Sheridan).
The only closed drive in that still has a screen is the Nor West in Broomfield. This is located at 120th and Perry street. Take I-25 North to 120th and turn left or West. The theatre will be on your right several miles down 120th ave. This is private property and is owned by the church that sits behind the theatre. If you would like to use an open theatre, I can probably get permission for you to use the Cinderella in Englewood.
Are there any closed drive-in theaters in the Denver area that may still have a screen up? I’m looking into this for a film shoot.
The tragedy at the East was a robbery which resulted in the stabbing of 2 young teens. Both survived the attack. The way I understand that it happened is that it was some sort of inside job between an employee and her boyfriend (that did the actual robbery). The drive in remained open for the rest of the season but did not reopen the following spring. We looked in to re-opening the theatre but the city of Aurora was not too keen on the idea of giving the theatre a long term operation permit. I think the city was already looking down the road to the Fitzsimons redevelopment and the proximity of the drive in property to that project.
…I moved to COlorado in around late 1995 after the drive-end theater was closed…I lived in an Apartment Complex behind the theater (The manager of the complex said a ghost of a woman walked the grounds of the drive-in late at night) (My living room window looked over the weed-infested parking lot, and the huge white movie-screen)… sadly I lost the photos I had taken of the once giant screen. I still have the letter “C” which I found near the old marquee.
I heard the main reason the theater closed was a “murder-robery”..? Is the true. I have lived in Colorado off and on for over 8 yrs and I have heard this form everyone. Please confirm..??
Compass Drive Ins?
My name is Jerry Dealey, and I was a Manager / Assistant Manager for many of the Compass Drive-ins in the mid to late 1970’s. You are so knowlegeable about the chain, that I feel I should know you. At your convenience, swing by my web site Dealey.org, where you should be able to get my eMail and drop me a line.
The 12800 E. Colfax address is correct. It was called the “New” East 70. 70mm (Norelcos) were installed in this theatre but was used possibly once. It was removed years ago and replaced with a Simplex XL head and a platter system. The Simplex head is now in operation at the Cinderella drive in on screen one.
Chuck…..Sorry about posting the address again, but I didn’t see your post. The address that you gave should be the correct one for this drive-in. Every drive-in list that I looked at, only list an East Drive-In and not a 70mm East Drive-In.
And while your here, could you add the Unique theater in Salida Colorado? I’m sure that you know more about it than I do.
I have a listing for an East Drive-In in Aurora, CO. The address of that drive-in was:
12800 E. Colfax Ave.
Aurora, CO 80011
Yes I remember you. Go to my website Dealey.org.
Nice to hear from you Jerry. You probably don’t remember me out of the hundres of employees you must have had but I worked for you at the North Star. My brother managed the West and the Wadsworth and you worked with his father in law. I would like to trade some e-mails but I am afraid of getting swamped with spam if I post it my address here. You were a great boss and fun to work for. I hope you are doing very well.
Looks like this thread is pretty much dead, but I had to add some comments.
I worked for the North Star (capacity was 1900 by the way) as both a Manager and Assistant Manager in th mid to late 1970’s. I also closed the Arapaho (1976), and Havana Drive-Ins (1981) (parts of the Wolfberg/Compass chains, later Commonwealth). At various times I managed the West, Valley and other drive-ins, as well as worked at the North, NorWest, East, and Wadsworth. Still know one of the owners of the Cinderella Twin, which is one of the remaining drive-ins in Denver today.
Oh, well. Mr. Todd Swormstedt couldn’t have his cake or eat it, either. TOOOOOOOOO BADDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Marquee was unfortunately destroyed when the theatre was removed from the property.
Only one thing left to say or do (hint hint)– Donate it to the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio!
The Centennial was near the corner of Federal at Belview. It sat on the southwest corner. It was actually on the Centennial race track property. In fact you had to enter the parking lot for the race track to access the theatre. There was a strip center anchored by a Safeway store (now closed) built on the site. It was a beautiful twin screen theatre which ended it’s life as a single screen and a flea market. Opening night publicity was marked by the first feature (which was “The High And The Mighty”) to be flown in to the theatre by 2 little planes which landed on the Centennial race track parking lot. The Centennial had a very attractive neon marquee which sat on top of a fieldstone pedistal. A back-lit comedy and tragedy mask was recessed into the base of the pedistal on each side. They had a midget named “Zero” who would run around the theatre entertaining kids and promoting his famous “Zeroburgers” which were always “fresh at the concession stand”. It was a truly great drive in.
I am not familier with the Centennial, Where was it? Unless you meant to say the Cinderella Twin.
Some of my fondest memories are of popping and bagging the fresh hot popcorn, the warm summer nights when I was running from side to side of the box office collecting money and handing out tickets. Later opening the “back gates” and standing on the hill watching people try to thread thier way out (not even a T-rex traffic jam compared to that). Even working Christmas eve when it was cold and snowing and being suprised to see 5 or 10 cars come in. We never seemed to close.
There was the old man in the green 45 chevy with all his posessions in the car. He seemed to have visited every drive in the city reguarly. We would try and guess his story. We all knew him but not his name.
We even wore ties and slacks back then (1977). That would be strange to see now.
The Compass chain was a division of the Wolfberg theatre chain. The East was actually a project of Mr. Leonard Albertini. He purchased the franchise rights from PARK IN THEATRES (Richard Hollingshead) for the Denver terratory. Originally from California, he moved his family to Denver to open the Denver drive in (East drive in). When one of the partners left the group, John and Ruth Wolfberg bought into the venture. From there, the South, West and Valley drive ins were built by the group. The North was a rebel drive in which was actually built by a Utah man. Opened as the MOTORENA, it was not a franchised part of PARK IN and was forced to sell to Wolfberg. They renamed it the North. Wolfberg (Compass) also built the Arapahoe, and North Star (1600 car capacity). The Wadsworth and Havana drive ins were built by a family named Kochrill. They owned the Denham theatre in 16th st. Vera Kochrill sold the drive ins to Wolfberg after her husband passed away. The curved screen at the Wadsworth was not the original…the curved screen was new for the 1959 season and was a process called MANCO VISION (I have a chunk of it) and was made out of aluminum. Supposedly it was 300% brighter than a normal white screen. The Nor West was built and operated by a man from Spearfish S. Dakota. He leased it to Commonwealth in it’s last years. The Lake Shore was built by Civic theatres of Kentucky on what was landfill from Sloan’s Lake. The Cinderella, and the West Colfax were built by Highland theatres of Longmont. All the drive ins in the Denver metro area were operated by Commonwealth (later United Artists) except for the Centennial, Evans,and 88th. All the major members of Wolfberg Theatres have now passed away except for the original founder of the Denver drive ins…Leonard Albertini. I would be happy to answer ANY questions on Denver theatres……. ESPECIALLY the beloved drive ins!!! :)
I worked at the North Star drive-in in the late 70s which along with the Wadsworth were two others in the Compass chain. I think the North Star had a capacity of about 1700 cars and the Wadsworth had a curved reflective screen and an indoor seating area (although it wasn’t used for years before the theatre was closed). The NS was torn down to make room for a very large electronics store and there is a Sams Club and Home Depot where the Wadsworth used to be. The Monaco was an airport parking lot until Denver moved the airport and now has new industrial buildings on the site. The North is now a city park.
Compass Drive-Ins were part of Wolfberg Theatres, Denver. I think they sold out to Commonwealth theatres in the late 70s or early 80s. I would like to hear of any info of how the company started and what became of it.