Mentor Twin Drive-In
9160 Mentor Avenue,
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The Mentor Drive-In opened on June 11, 1949, featuring “Blondie Knows Best” with Penny Singleton, Arthur Lake, Larry Simms and Daisy. The theatre opening was a huge success with approximately 2,000 people in attendance with many cars being tuned away. The ten parking ramps had a capacity for 500 cars, which quickly filled up. The drive-in was screening movies seven nights a week. They took extra consideration for their customers with young children and provided a free bottle warming and diaper service. The Mentor Drive-In was owned by Mentor Amusement Company (Shulman and Schwartz) who also owned the Lake Theatre and Park Theatre in Painesville and the Lyric Theatre in Fairport, OH.
Harold Kay was the general manager of the theatre and Berlo Vending Co. were contracted to operate the concession stand. Construction of the drive-in was to begin right after the end of World War II, but was held off for three years. The reason it was held off, building materials were needed for construction of new homes for the returning World War II veterans. Architect George A. Ebeling, who designed the Lake Theatre, as well as other drive-ins located in Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio, was the architect of the Mento Drive-In.
The Mentor Drive-In was one of the first screen towers in Ohio to be constructed of steel and concrete rather than wood, a material which most 1940’s screen towers were constructed. It was designed in the shape of a triangle with the ‘point’ facing Mentor Avenue. It allowed extra room for offices, dressing and storage rooms in the base of the screen tower. The flat screen size was 52 ft x 42 ft. Eventually a wider curved CinemaScope screen was installed in front of the flat screen for screening ‘scope pictures. The sound system was provided by 250 watt amplifiers made by Altec Lansing, powering RCA in-a-car speakers.
In 1977, the Mentor Drive-In was twinned. National Theatres Corp. (Co-Operative Theatres of Ohio Inc.) took over the operation of the facility. The Mentor Drive-In was closed in 1986. Later on, it was demolished and a super K-Mart was built on the old drive-in site.
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