Springfield Drive-In

1949 E. Sunshine Street,
Springfield, MO 65804

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Springfield Drive-In

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Opened in 1938, the city grew to surround the theatre on three sides with businesses and restaurants. To the rear, at the time of it’s closing in 1978, there was still a neighborhood. Losing the 40 year lease renewal in 1977, the property was razed to build an office complex called Corporate Square.

It had a fully enclosed wooded screen tower of the typical genre, with a white picket fence enclosing the playground in the front. Looney Tunes characters were painted on the tower wall facing the playground, along with hardwood free-standing cartoon characters in concrete buckets placed here and there.

The concession stand, which had been added to at least four times over the years, was dual-laned and simply decorated. White tiles on the walls, off-white with blue, yellow and red speckled tiles were on the floor, the kitchen was stainless steel. The ceiling was very low, you could reach up and touch it without even straightening your arm. The original managers office was off the lobby and the city managers office was in the rear with a private entrance.

In early-1970, the city manager moved to the Queen City Twin, and the manager moved into the empty office. The former office became inventory storage. The projection booth was below ground level and featured twin carbon-arcs. Another somewhat unusual feature were the two sets of outdoor seating on either side of the rose garden fronting the booth. It was wired for sound, so you could sit and wait for someone in the concession or cool off if your car was just too hot on a hot summer night.

It was a wonderful theatre that started out with first run films in the 1930’s, went to second run films in the 1950’s and sadly ended it’s reign hosting the rather benign R-rated features of the 1970’s.

Contributed by Dwayne Butcher
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