French Village Drive-In

8601 California Drive,
East St. Louis, IL 62202

Unfavorite 6 people favorited this theater

French Village Drive-In

This was one of the older ozoners in the St. Louis area. It opened in 1942 by Publix Great States Theatres with a capacity of 500 cars. It opened as the East St. Louis Drive-In. Its name was later changed to the French Village and ownership changed to Bloomer Amusement Co. (BAC).

Beside the architecture of the buildings the screen tower is noted for having a stage and dressing rooms below it. Another feature to the state of drive-ins at the time were the tiered rows where cars pulled up the ramps to park and had to back out to leave.

There was a tunnel running from the front box office to the projection booth and to the back of the theatre. Through the tunnel was run the electrical, water lines and speaker wires.

During its later life it switched to pornographic features until it closed in 1984. It was sitting empty with its large screen and main entrance on St. Clair Avenue in the early-2000’s, but had been demolished by 2007.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

rally67red
rally67red on July 12, 2011 at 6:43 am

This was my favorite drive-in during the Seventies. Always favored it over the Skyview. I remember seeing a Disney double-feature…“The Cat from Outer Space” and “The Shaggy D.A.” My neighbor had a station wagon and we threw our sleeping bags up on the luggage rack. The first and only time I watched a movie on the roof of a car. Also, back in the day, we went to see “Star Wars” at French Village. My parents had a van (Seventies Van Craze Days!) as well as some friends of ours. We pulled one van in straight, backed the other van in next to ours, and opened the side doors. You could jump from one van to another. Too Cool! I was 8 and Star Wars blew my mind.

Stomp
Stomp on September 17, 2012 at 7:02 am

Saw the Raquel Welch flick “One Million Years B.C.” here in the 1960s and saw “The Omen” when it came out in the 70s. About 10 miles from my home. There is one other Drive in theatre here in the metro east St. Louis area about 6 miles away from this theatre called Skyview in Belleville Il Ive never been to that one and its still going strong! Amazing. Yes this license plate was for sale on Ebay BJ 5666 LOL!

DAL
DAL on September 17, 2012 at 5:00 pm

This location was a Plitt Theatre in 1976 when I joined the company. It was in the far south end of Ed Konradt’s district, which also included (at that time) the Wildey in Edwardsville, the Grand in Alton, and the Madison and Palace in Peoria. Plitt closed it within a few years; maybe that was when Bloomer took over. Sadly, years after its closure but before its demolition, the body in a murder case was discovered on the grounds.

jwmovies
jwmovies on October 5, 2012 at 6:06 am

To map correctly, enter 8601 California Dr.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on May 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

The St. Clair Ave address was the correct address back in the day, but they made St. Clair Ave a limited access road. So an access road was built so 8601 California Dr. is the correct address now.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on May 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm

More pictures and information HERE

dansdriveintheater
dansdriveintheater on November 5, 2018 at 6:53 pm

now all that remains are some of the ramps.

MitchWolf
MitchWolf on October 15, 2019 at 1:56 pm

Richard Wright, owner of the Lincoln in Belleville, took over the ownership of the French Village in 1989

The X Rated films was played through the winter yrs as well

Looks like a little known motorcycle club built a building on the grounds …NOT A CHURCH

Kris4077
Kris4077 on October 15, 2019 at 6:24 pm

@MitchWolf Google maps has it as the Church of the Living God. Unless that’s the name of a Christian motorcycle club. It’s the right location in comparison to Historic Aerials.

Norman Plant
Norman Plant on October 16, 2019 at 10:19 pm

It IS the site of a church. Eyewitness account.

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater