2401 E. State Street,
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The Salem Drive-In opened on July 27, 1950, screening the 1948 western “Northwest Stampede” with Joan Leslie, James Craig and Jack Oakie. The drive-in theatre was built by the Vogel Building Company which was the Vogel Brothers from Wellsville, Ohio. Vogel Building was comprised of Paul Vogel along with Jack K., an architectural engineer and Hank, a construction engineer. They also did business as Vogel Theatres/Melas Theatre Corp. Jack K. Vogel was an architectural designer and engineer who was well known for his futuristic screen towers and drive in theatres in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Vogel was ‘widely regarded as the Frank Lloyd Wright of drive-in theatres’. The Salem Drive-In was built at a cost of $100,000 and featured 12 parking ramps that could hold 500 cars. In 1953, with success of the screening 3-D movies at the Vogel’s Midway Drive-In, the Vogel brothers installed 3-D equipment at the Salem Drive-In. Part of the process was the screen is specially coated to attain depth dimension as well as improved width and height dimension. I think 3-D movies was pretty much of a bust in the 1950’s, the process had too many problems for the theatre operators.
The Salem Drive-In also supported Drive-in church services on Sundays. In 1953, the Vogel’s held a contest that ran all summer long and ended on Labor Day. The prize was a pony, try that nowadays! In 1958 one of the big kiddie attractions was a real fire engine at the drive-in. The kids got a big kick climbing all over it and getting free rides around the drive-in. Paul Vogel is quoted as saying “So that’s why I say today in order to make a profit, we have to offer something more than just picture entertainment. We have to make our theatres an interesting place for the whole family.” A new screen tower was installed in Spring of 1976 for the opening of the new season.
The Salem Drive-In finally closed for good in 1986 at the end of the season. The drive-in was demolished and the property was redeveloped by Fred Vogel (Jack’s son) and Melas Theatres. Melas Theatres had owned the property since 1949. The Vogel’s were not the only theatre owner and operators but were also property developers in the Salem area. The property was redeveloped into a medical building and with a street going through it.
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