5400 West Hillsborough Avenue,
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The Sundown Drive-In probably had the shortest lifespan of any drive-in in the country. Opening on March 13, 1953 and closing in August of 1954, the drive-in was in existence for a mere one year and five months. Capacity is listed as 275 cars and the owner was Bob Morales.
The lot was located off Hillsborough Avenue at Hoover Boulevard on the right side of the road about one mile west of Dale Mabry. The narrow dirt road that became today’s Hoover Boulevard led from Hillsborough Avenue to the Sundown’s box office. This location was considered to be "way out in the boondocks" at the time as much of the area was still undeveloped. Today’s Town N' Country suburb located further west on Hillsborough Avenue did not even exist.
The rear of the screen faced Hillsborough Avenue and the lot was not far from the airport’s north and south runways on the opposite side of Hillsborough Avenue. This in fact may have been one of the reasons for the early demise of the Sundown. This plus being located far off the beaten path may have sealed it’s doom.
As late as the mid-1970s the screen and the concessions building were still standing. While driving down Hillsborough Avenue I remember seeing the rear of the rusted and tattered screen several times which was now surrounded and partly obscured by trees and overgrown bushes. On one occasion I turned down the narrow dirt road and drove towards the rear of the screen.
I could see the concessions building now nearly obliterated by weeds and tall bushes. Walking past the screen and into the lot I stopped cold. As intriguing as it was and even in broad daylight I just didn’t have the nerve to go any further fearing snakes and other creatures may be lurking within. The entire lot was almost hidden by the overgrowth and looked small in comparison to other drive-ins.
The Sundown Drive-In also played a few Spanish language films based on several ads I saw before switching back to Engish language features. The final published ad appeared on Friday, August 13, 1954. That evening’s program was advertised for Friday and Saturday although there was no published ad in Saturday’s theatre listings. A friend tells me she remembers going to the Sundown Drive-In to see "The Barefoot Mailman" with Bob Cummings. She also remembers seeing either "It Came From Outer Space" or "The Creature From The Black Lagoon" here. The Sundown Drive-In had closed long before I discovered movies and theatres so I never had a chance to see a movie here.
Several office buildings and a parking lot occupy the site today.
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