Egyptian Drive-In

3100 Eden Park Drive,
Energy, IL 62948

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Egyptian Drive-In

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The Egyptian Drive-In opened in 1948 in the small community of Energy, just outside of Herrin, in Illinois' Egypt region. It was built by Wayne and Alene Smith, and originally could accomodate about 400 cars (though parking was later increased to over 650). In 1955, the Smiths increased the size of the screen to 125 feet wide by 83 feet tall, the largest in the country at the time.

In addition to movies, the Smiths offered a kiddie park that offered mini-train rides and pony rides as well as a concession stand that served cafeteria-style food, and propane heaters for when the weather turned cool.

The Egyptian was sold to the Kerasotes chain in 1974, but in 1981, was returned to Alene Smith. Kerasotes didn’t feel the drive-in was profitable enough. In 1981, radio broadcast replaced window speakers, and a decade later, Smith opened up a restaurant on the drive-in’s property showcasing some of her culinary delights, such as her funnel cakes (“as good as any at the county fair”) and Charlie Burgers, named for a famous local outlaw. Also featured was Alene Smith’s popular alligator stew. Smith’s cooking became almost as big a draw to the Egyptian as the on-screen entertainment.

Sadly, Alene Smith passed away in early 2001, and her daughter ran the drive-in for a season or so before the nearby Williamson County Regional Airport made an offer to her, and, at the end of the 2002 season, the Egyptian was closed for good. Later, the property was cleared to make way for the airport’s expansion.

Though the region’s most beloved drive-in is no longer around, it continues to live in the hearts and memories of generations of southern Illinoisans.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 11 comments)

melders
melders on May 21, 2004 at 6:57 pm

The drive in is still here, dispite the fact that the airport announced demolishion about a year ago. They stripped the covering off the screen, but left its frame up. Also I believe that the concession stand and the ticket booth are still there.

melders
melders on August 12, 2004 at 8:02 am

Rumor has it that the airport didn’t pay the daughter all they owed her. The old billboard, which had been empty since the drive-in closed, now has a reality company’s name on it.

melders
melders on November 26, 2004 at 6:34 am

The screen is gone, so I assume the rest of it is too.

RusSEAL
RusSEAL on December 6, 2006 at 1:32 pm

My twin and I [commonly referred to as “The Twins” or “The Rose Boys] were the brawn and dim-witted backbone that helped Alene revive the Egyptian after the abysmal tenants [Kerasotas] left the property back in the ‘81-'82 season.

Though the initial entry is very consistant in accuracy, one point of contention for Alene was that the “property” of The Egyptian had not been sold outright to Kerasotas Inc but was [more-or-less] a lease-to-own arrangement that entailed the equipment and accoutremont of the theater itself, but not the land. Kerasotas claimed- though fiscally correct- that the venture for them was “not profitable” but it was the abomanable business practices and last-ditch-effort as a porno palace that sealed their fate back then and had the property rescended to Alene.

The love, desire and commitment to the theater, to her good name, and to the reciprocal love and loyalty of her friends/staff [“The Rose Boys] Alene and The Egyptian saw great strides for the decade of the 80s and I proudly stand as a huge part of that.

My twin and I have extensive files, photos and stories to tell of the resurgence of Alene’s theater from [roughly] 1983 to 1989. Though a name or two may escape me, there are many stories to be told- both beautiful as well as taudry.

For the definitive information concerning the 1980s Pheonix rise of The Egyptian, feel free to contact me.

tlogan
tlogan on January 14, 2008 at 6:45 am

The Egyptian is now demolished but one can still discern the pattern worn into the earth of the parking configuration, clearly visible on Google Earth. It’s a crying shame that Herrin, IL lost the Annex, Marlow’s, the Riviera Drive In AND the Egyptian so long ago. The Egyptian was a gem of a drive-in theatre in its day.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on May 12, 2008 at 6:35 pm

The year given for this photo is 2002.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on May 5, 2009 at 3:07 am

Here is a June 1967 ad from the Southern Illinoisan:
http://tinyurl.com/df94cq

tamrich
tamrich on July 21, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I am looking for photos of the Egyptian Drive In from 1955-1959.
I am especially interested in photos of the fire truck. There was a small fire truck that would carry kids around the parking lot prior to the first movie.

Amyf19721
Amyf19721 on November 19, 2013 at 5:09 am

I was wondering if this place is up for sale. cause I remember this place didn’t have a stable on there too cause I remember there was a horse stable too

Grandma
Grandma on April 2, 2014 at 11:39 am

RusSEAL, I would like to contact you about sharing your photographs with the Herrin Community by way of the Herrin History Room at the City Library. I didn’t see a way to contact you directly, so I’m hoping you see this. I personally am not at the library often, but the assistant director of the museum is there. Her name is Lisa Carnaghie.

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