Ellis Drive-In

2225 Hessler Boulevard,
New Castle,
Wilmington, DE 19720

550 cars

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George Quirk
George Quirk on October 1, 2012 at 8:06 am

Originally called Brandywine Drive-In. Opened 1949. The Ellis DI was the first to be opened in the Wilmington DE area. It was originally called the Brandywine Drive-In, and it was located a mile south of the city on the Du Pont Highway (Rt. 13). Opening day was July 13, 1949, with “The Adventures of Robin Hood” as the opening attraction. Projection and sound were RCA Motiograph, and the lot could hold 1,100 cars, plus seating for 250 people on foot. The marquee was 68-foot-tall, one of the largest in the state. It had a burgundy-and-white background in neon with the word “Brandywine” in magenta script, and “Drive-In” in white Egyptian block letters. In February 1955, the theater was sold to the Ellis Theater Company of Philadelphia for $85,000. Ellis proceeded to change more than the theater’s name. The screen was enlarged for Cinemascope (100 feet by 40 feet), the lot was nearly doubled in size, and in-car heaters were installed at this time.

jwmovies on September 29, 2012 at 12:21 am

Approx. address for this drive-in was 4015 North Dupont Highway. the entrance itself was SOUTH of Hessler when the drive-in was open. Hessler was reconfigured to its present location. The drive-in was NW of present intersection.

lopeman on July 21, 2012 at 5:47 am

Ellis did not close in 1965. Not sure when exactly however I was still going there in 1967 while on boot camp leave. The item in the rear of pic is indeed a race track. Wilm Motor Speedway. Stock cars and other events (went to a rodeo there in 1950s) Next to Ellis was an amusement park called Kiddie Town. It closed in late 50s or very early 60s. Buck a car night, and towards the end all night shows were big deal. Sound system (pole speakers) were worst in Delaware but “privacy” factor over rode the need for clear sound.:–)

rave323 on June 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm

In the 1954 photo, what is next door? It looks like a race track of some kind. Thanks.

NYozoner on January 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm

U.S. 13 & Hessler Blvd, New Castle, DE 19720

The above address will map accurately to the location of the drive-in, which was on the west side of US 13, and north of Hessler Blvd.

Here is a 1954 aerial photo of the drive-in, courtesy of HistoricAerials.com:

View link

NYozoner on January 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm

According to this site:

This drive-in operated as the Brandywine Drive-In from 1949-1955, and then was renamed the Ellis Drive-In after Philadelphia-based Ellis Theatres assumed operation, and went by Ellis Drive-In until closing in 1965.

Depending on your outlook, the heading should read either;
Ellis Drive-in, AKA Brandywine Drive-In,
Brandywine Drive-In, AKA Ellis Drive-In.

My preference is the former, since it went by Ellis Drive-In more recently, and for more year than Brandywine Drive-In, not that it makes very much difference either way.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on September 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Saw a Kerry Drive-in in 1956 here.Wonder if the Brandywine had closed?