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Previously operated by: All State Theatres
Opened on July 3, 1955 with George Montgomery in “Gun Belt” & Tab Hunter in “Return to Treasure Island”. On August 4, 1955, wind damaged the screen tower of the Chief Drive-In “still under construction,” according to a story the next day in the Abilene Reporter-News. But that story added, “A movie was shown at the theater (that) night”.
The September 10, 1955 issue of Billboard announced, “Clarence McNeil has opened the new Chief Drive-In Theater at Abilene, Tex. It has a capacity of 450 cars”.
The 1955-56 Theatre Catalog listed the Chief Drive-In, owner Clarence McNeil, with a capacity of 400.
Clarence McNiel’s house was destroyed in a fire on October 27, 1956. The Reporter-News story the next day identified him as owner and operator of the Chief Drive-In. A February 18, 1957 story in the Reporter-News said that Vumore Co. of Abilene owned both the Key City Drive-In and Chief Drive-In.
The “New Chief Drive-In” reopened under the ownership of E. L. Williamson, whose All States Theaters also owned the Key City Drive-In.
The Motion Picture Almanac began including the Chief Drive-In in its 1957 edition, capacity 500, owner C. McNeel, but it only lasted three years before falling off the list in 1960.
A Reporter-News article said that drive-in was “about three-fourths of a mile southwest of the city limits on U. S. 277.” In newspaper advertisements, the Chief/New Chief Drive-In’s address was listed as Bronte Hi-Way or San Angelo Highway. Its final advertisements was in September 1958, but the Chief Drive-In was still included on topo maps through at least 1968.
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A 1968 aerial shows the drive-in demolished with only the ramps and outline remaining.
By 1995, the drive-in had virtually faded away. Today, the property is mostly an open field with a walking track located on the north side of Faith Deliverance Community Church. There is no trace remaining.
Boxoffice, Aug. 20, 1955: “Clarence McNeil opened his new Chief Drive-In about a mile west of town on U. S. 277. The new theatre will accommodate 450 cars.”
The walking trail is actual a drive way that circled the Chief Drive In back in the day.
Opened on 15th July 1955 with a colour cartoon(not named?), “Gunbelt” and “Return to Treasure Island”.
The walking track is way too small to have encircled the drive-in. Plus, the track does not appear in any of the aerial photos until 2004, decades after the drive-in was demolished.