Shankweiler's Drive-In

4540 Shankweiler Road,
Orefield, PA 18069

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Shankweiler's Drive-In

The historic Shankweiler’s Drive-In was the second drive-in to open in the United States when it was built in 1934, opening on April 15, 1934.

Contributed by Ross Melnick

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on June 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Very cool the 2nd drive-in ever and is still open.

BobFurmanek
BobFurmanek on June 2, 2010 at 11:05 pm

I have also been there for a show and it’s a FABULOUS place with a good presentation and nice people.

It truly is a National Historic Landmark!

Tine263
Tine263 on June 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm

This is a really nice drive-in! The owners are very friendly and truly care about the place. I was able to go their opening weekend this year in April. So cool!

http://driveinadventures.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/shankweilers-drive-in/

Chris1982
Chris1982 on October 6, 2014 at 8:04 am

2013 Digital projection and sound equipment installed.

NeonMichael
NeonMichael on December 27, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Shankweiler’s history page says it opened on April 15, 1934. Kerry Segrave’s book Drive-In Theaters also lists that date, but says it’s “questionable”. The first reference I could find in The Morning Call of nearby Allentown was on May 22, 1937 when an ad for Shankweiler’s restaurant added “Shankweilers’s Open Air Theatre Now Open (for the season?) – Talkie Shows Every Sun., Wed. & Fri. Evenings”.

The Segrave book says that Wilson Shankweiler was a movie buff who saw the original Camden NJ drive-in while on vacation in 1933. “Behind the hotel he owned in Orefield was a deserted landing strip, which Shankweiler converted to a makeshift drive-in. The first screen consisted of two poles and a sheet.” The hotel building, still there, was converted to a funeral home in 2010.

Lehigh Valley Business listed the chain of ownership in a 2015 article. In 1958, Shankweiler rented the drive-in to Al Moffa, a close friend who had helped him build it. “The next year, Shankweiler sold it to Moffa’s manager, Bob Malkemis.” In 1983, Malkemis sold Shankweiler’s to Paul Geissinger and his wife, who together “operated it as a second job and as a hobby.”

Geissinger is an electrician, and according to a now-vanished Project Drive-In article, in 1986 he built the first FM radio broadcast unit for use in a drive-in.

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on December 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm

This place should be heritage listed!!

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on January 19, 2018 at 1:52 am

Shankweiler’s Drive-In is now for sale.
Brief history highlights from the article at the bottom can be added to Overview.

SHANKWEILER’S HISTORY

1934: Wilson Shankweiler opens the outdoor theater in North Whitehall Township.

1948: Installs speaker poles and car speakers

1965: Shankweiler sells the drive-in to Robert Malkames.

1982: Adds AM radio (and later FM radio) micro-vicinity broadcasting to deliver the soundtrack.

1984: Malkames sells to Paul and Susan Geissinger.

2013: Converts projection and sounds systems to digital format.

2018: Property for sale with asking price of $1.2 million

http://www.mcall.com/business/mc-biz-shankweiler-drive-in-for-sale-20180118-story.html

davidcoppock
davidcoppock on February 6, 2018 at 7:16 am

Opened on 15/4/1934.

DRIVEIN101
DRIVEIN101 on July 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm

I heard that Paul and Sue were looking to sell. But God forbid this historic landmark be torn down

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