Montrose Drive-In

4022 Medina Road,
Akron, OH 44333

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Montrose Drive-In

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The Montrose Drive-In opened on July 3, 1948, screening the 1947 western the “Gunfighters” with Randolph Scott, Dorothy Hart and Barbara Britton. The airer was opened by Lawrence Tyrell and Co-Operative Of Ohio Inc., was the buying and booking agency. On July 16, 1950, the Montrose Drive-In was sold to Lee Ratener dba Montrose Theatrical Enterprises. In October of 1949, Ratener and Jerry Steele opened the Star View Drive-In in Norwalk, Ohio. In 1956 Steele bought out Ratener’s interest in the Star View. In 1950, Ratener and Vince Lauter opened the Magic Drive-In in Barberton, Ohio. The Montrose Drive-In supported Easter services at the drive-in with free coffee, hot chocolate and doughnuts after the services.

Ratener also opened “The Freez”, a cold treats stand that was on the opposite side of SR 18 across from the drive-in. In the early-1970’s, Ratener considered adding a second screen when other drive-in theatres started to “twin” there drive-ins. In 1973 a fire destroyed his screen and also burned the architectural drawings for the addition screen. He just rebuilt his screen tower and decided not to twin the Montrose Drive-In. In the 1970’s-1980’s the drive-in had a flea market each Saturday and Sunday. Lee Ratener turned 78 years old and finally closed the Montrose Drive-In at the end of season in 1986. The drive-in was demolished in April of 1987.

In an interview years ago with the West Side Leader, Ratener talked about what he saw in the area. “I had a tremendous belief in the future of the area because of the roads [Interstates] 77 and 71" he said. “This is the place to be". According to Tim Lance, of Copley, who started working at the drive-in when he was around 14 years old, “It was a family operation” Lance said of Ratener’s drive-in. “His wife, Yrma, worked with him day in and day out”. Ratener died February 4, 2009, in Naples, Florida, at the age of 101.

Contributed by Randy Studer
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