Ferguson Hills Drive-In
2310 Ferguson Road,
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One of the most popular drive-ins in the Cincinnati area was the Ferguson Hill Drive-In. It was advertised as Cincinnati’s largest single screen drive-in theatre. The Ferguson Hill Drive-In was opened on August 29, 1958, with a soft opening screening “Rock-A-Bye Baby”, “Desire Under the Elms” and “Gunfight at the OK Corral”. The grand opening was on September 19, 1958, screening the 1958 romance/comedy “The Matchmaker” with Shirley Booth, Anthony Perkins and Shirley MacLaine. The second feature was the 1958 mystery/thriller “Virtigo” with James Stewart, Kim Novak and Barbara Bel Geddes. Third feature was the 1958 western “The Left Handed Gun” with Paul Newman, Lita Milan and John Dehner. With a capacity of 1,400 cars, it featured in-a-car speakers that shut off when speakers were placed back in the holder. Additionally in-a-car heaters were a special treat. The only other drive-in, in the Cincinnati area at that time which could match the car capacity was the Twin Drive-In, but it had two screens. The Screen tower was 122ft wide with a 90ft x 60ft refreshement stand.
The new ozoner was opened by Sam, Al and Lou Levin (dba Ferguson Hills Inc.) and Levin Services from Dayton, OH. Levin Services were operating several drive-in theatres in the Dayton area. The Ferguson Hills Drive-In played a game that was called ‘Wahoo’. It was like an on-screen bingo game that many drive-in theatres played in the 1940’s to 1960’s. In June 1960, the Cincinnati Solicitor considered the game to be a lottery, which was illegal. Players matched numbers on cards given to them upon arrival. Then numbers were flashed onto the screen and matched up on the card. On June 25, 1960, the Cincinnati Police raided the drive-in and confiscated left-over ‘Wahoo’ cards, and then took away the ‘Waho’ machine. There was no special ‘Wahoo’ machine to flash the numbers onto the screen. In January 1961 after many legal battles, the Ferguson Hills Drive-In was acquitted of a charge of promoting a scheme of chance in permitting ‘Wahoo’ by a jury trial. Sam Levin, president of the theatre and his attorney, William Sheffield, told the jury the game was not gambling because it cost the customer nothing and no profit was made on the game by the theatre. The games were considered a form of advertising and supporting the drive-in theatres.
In 1971, the Paris Flea Market and Farmers Market was opened on Sundays during the day. Levin Sevices closed the Ferguson Hills Drive-In at the end of the 1986 season, but continued to have the Paris Flea Market on the property. The flea market finally closed for good on October 29, 1995. On April 3, 1996, all of the equipment and other items were sold at auction. The drive-in was demolished and the property sold. One of what used to be many vibrant drive-ins in the Cincinnati area, in its final years it was known for mounting many unusual ‘dusk-to-dawn’ shows.
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