Tri-Vale Drive-In

23222 Co Road 621,
Coshocton, OH 43812

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Tri-Vale Drive-In

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Another one of Coshocton, Ohio’s short lived drive-in theatres was the Tri-Vale Drive-In. It was opened by Frank Gilfilen, Robert Phillips and Hebert H. Horstemeier. Gilfilen was the former owner of the Skyway Drive-In, which closed in 1954 for a state of Ohio highway improvement project. H. H. Horstemeier was the former owner of the Arlington Drive-In/Auto-Voice Movie Restaurant in Akron, Ohio. He was a theatre movie booker/operator of the Hazelwood, Kingman Drive-In theatres in Ohio.

The Tri-Vale Drive-In had a soft opening on May 1, 1955. The grand opening was on May 11, 1955, screening the 1954 comedy/musical “Lucky Me” with Doris Day, Robert Cummings, Phil Silvers and Eddie Foy Jr. The second feature was the 1953 action/adventure/drama “Sea of Lost Ships” with John Derek, Wanda Hendrix and Walter Brennan. It could hold 500 cars along with in-a-car speakers. The CinemaScope Screen tower was 88 ft. x 56 ft.

On June 22, 1955, the screen tower and concession stand/projection booth was blown-up causing $30,000 worth of damage to the drive-in. Sheriff Gilbert F. Kempf is quoted in saying that “the explosions apparently were set off by experts who were probably paid to destroy the outdoor theatre". Primer cord was wrapped around all but 1 of the 12 wooden posts that supported the screen. All of the posts sheared off at the base except for the one, and the screen did not topple over. Dynamite was placed inside drilled holes in the foundation of the concession stand/projection booth. It destroyed the projection booth equipment and concession stand. Gilfilen said it was his opinion that the explosions were instigated by someone who “wants me out of the drive-in theatre business". Later on in July at the home of George Manos, an unsucessessful bombing attempt was made. Manos at this time is the owner of the Elm Lane Drive-In, in Coshocton and the Star-Lite Drive-In, in West Lafayette, OH. The Toronto police believed that the persons who blew-up the Tri-Vale Theatre may have mistaken it for the Manos Elm Lane Drive-In. Over the years George Manos (dba Manos Enterprises) had many financial problems in not paying their debts and they usually ended up in court. The Tri-Vale Drive-In got all the damage repaired and reopened on June 26, 1955.

In November of 1955, Frank Gilfilen sold the Tri-Vale Drive-In to Herbert Horstemeier and John Scheck (dba Coshocton Drive-In Inc.). Earl Starner was named as manager of the drive-in. Gilfilen took a full time position with Shaw-Barton in Coshocton. Gilfilen worked for the Shaw-Barton Inc., in the winter months while he was operating the Skyway Drive-In during the summer. Apparently Gilfilen realized that owning and operating a drive-in theatre was not for him anymore. He retired from Shaw-Barton Inc. in 1981 and died on February 21, 1989. In 1956, Earl Starner was made a partner in Coshocton Drive-In Inc., he also operates the Star Theatre in Coshocton. In April of 1961, Starner sold the Tri-Vale Drive-In to Robert Manos. He was the son of George Manos. W. E. Gross will be the new manager. Unfortunately the screen tower was demolished on May 9, 1961, by a wind storm. The Tri-Vale Drive-In never reopened. Since Manos was operating the Elm Lane Drive-In at this time, maybe there was not enough business to keep both open. The Elm Lane was the bigger of the two drive-ins. In the mid-1960’s the property was put up for sale by Robert Manos. It is now the Coshocton Pallet & Door.

Contributed by Randy Studer
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