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The start of construction of a new drive-in in the Sandpoint/Ponderay area was announced in the Spokane Daily Chronicle on November 2, 1951. The theater was to be built by L.H. Weskil, the son of F.C. Weskil who built the Panida Theatre in Sandpoint in 1927. It was said to be one of the most unusual theaters in the Northwest because it was being built to take advantage of the “natural beauty of the site.” It would incorporate evergreen trees and native growth for the borders instead of the usual concrete and wood.
With the design work by the B.F. Shearer Company of Seattle the Motor Movie, as it was then called, opened on July 11, 1952 with future mayor Floyd Gray as manager. The Chronicle said 1,000 people enjoyed opening night with the mountains and forest serving as a backdrop. It was said that the 360-car capacity could be increased to 600 if needed. The drive-in was listed in the International Motion Picture Almanac under the Saffles circuit until 1976.
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