North 52 Drive-In
4835 Rivers Avenue,
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The Victory Downs Drive-In opened May 12, 1945, featuring “Guadalcanal Diary” with Preston Foster, Lloyd Nolan, William Bendix, Richard Conte and Anthony Quinn. The drive-in was located on the old Victory Downs Jockey Club Race Track. The drive-in closed on December 1, 1947, for remodeling and reopened on March 15, 1948. Soon after the reopening, the drive-in was sold to Consolidated Theatres Inc. and closed again on December 31, 1948. The drive-in was remodeled to include a 500 car capacity parking ramp. The newly remodeled facility featured a new 60 ft high x 30 ft wide screen tower manufactured by the Bulcraft Corporation. It had all new restrooms, concession stand and in-a-car speakers. H.M. Gibbs of Consolidated Theatres supervised the reconstruction of the drive-in.
The drive-in reopened on September 7, 1949 as the North 52 Drive-In, featuring “My Dream is Yours” with Jack Carson, Doris Day and Lee Bowman. In 1962, with the construction of the new I-26 expressway and East Montague Street being extended so it would connect up with the new I-26 expressway, the drive-in lost some of its road frontage. On October 6, 1961, the drive-in closed again for another reconstruction. This time, a new 72 ft high x 122 ft wide screen tower was relocated on the north end of the parking ramp with the screen front facing south. The new parking ramp was increased to park 1,000 cars. New twin box offices at the entrances were constructed to speed up entering the drive-in.
The new concession stand was designed with three self-service lanes and could accommodate 2,300 people in 30 minutes. Also, a big front window was installed so that customers could watch the movie while being served. All new projection equipment was installed. The North 52 Drive-In reopened January 19, 1962, showing “The Second Time Around” with Debbie Reynolds, Steve Forest, Andy Griffith and Juliet Prowse. At this time Consolidated Theatres owned and operated the Flamingo Drive-In and Magnolia Drive-In. Since it was located in South Carolina, which has mild winters, it was open all year long up to its closing. In the mid-1980’s they stated to show “X” Rated movies such as “Driller”, “Princes Seka” and “Looking Good” at $5.00 a car load.
With the times changing in the drive-in theatre business and the property becoming more valuable, the theatre finally closed on September 30, 1987. The North 52 Drive-In was demolished and redeveloped for retail use. The North 52 Drive-In (aka Victory Downs Drive-In) was the first drive-in theatre to open in Charleston, SC, and the last drive-in theatre in Charleston, SC to close.
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