Ferguson Hills Drive-In

2310 Ferguson Road,
Cincinnati, OH 45238

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Ferguson Hills Drive-In

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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.

Contributed by Randy Studer, Marc Edward Heuck

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Joeallen
Joeallen on October 20, 2004 at 7:34 am

For several years after the Ferguson Hills Drive-in closed, it was used as a huge outdoor flea market (and a good one if you like flea markets). Now it is the site of a “strip mall” which includes a Wal-Mart, PetSmart, Kroger, etc.

Joeallen
Joeallen on October 4, 2008 at 2:11 pm

Haven’t visited this site in a few years. This neighborhood had gone to the dogs as many others in this city. The strip mall is still there but it’s kind of dangerous to go there after dark. Not like the days when the drive-in was open!!!

Bill Eichelberger
Bill Eichelberger on August 18, 2009 at 4:57 am

When the Ferguson was a flea market, my friends and I would go once a month to see what deals we could scare up. This would have been 1979-81. One guy bought a pair of 6x9 speakers for his Duster for the astronomical price of $25. I couldn’t believe how he was throwing money around that day. The guys who were selling them out of the back of a truck were pretty seedy looking and he had us write the license number of the truck down in case he was getting ripped off. They actually turned out to be pretty decent speakers. As a kid I watched one of the Fred MacMurray Flubber movies here. It was quite a drive and I’m not sure why we made it. The Pike 27 was just ten minutes from our house.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 29, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Okay,all you FERGUSON HILLS DRIVE-IN fans, Going on its second week is “DIRTY MARY and CRAZY LARRY” with second feature “LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE” another strange double feature I have found, August 9 1974.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 29, 2010 at 4:26 pm

GOOD STORY ABOUT GEORGE KENNEDY the actor on GCC CITADEL MALL. if you see this TLSLOEWS or anyone else that likes George Kennedy.

hanksykes
hanksykes on August 20, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Former Ferguson Drive-In area hosts a huge Wal-Mart,big Pet Store,several small variety stores,and a large Kroger Super Market. Even the flea market is a thing of past years. In olden days some of the trailer footage used to find its final home in a dumpster, guess it was cheaper than returning it!

rivest266
rivest266 on May 31, 2015 at 10:49 am

August 29th, 1958 grand opening ad in photo section

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