Hartford Drive-In

2322 Berlin Turnpike,
Newington, CT 06111

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Hartford Drive-In

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The Hartford opened in 1947 and was one of the first to open in Connecticut. It also wound up being one of the last four operating until it closed in 1996. There was a drive by a couple preservation groups to rescue and revive the drive-in but I am not sure of the outcome.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 25 comments)

pouruchista
pouruchista on April 25, 2007 at 7:44 pm

I think it was this theatre that used to be a flea market for a few years after the theatre closed.

rgdei8
rgdei8 on April 26, 2007 at 5:16 pm

It was the place used to be the flea market. It is town houses now that they built last year and this year. It was directly across from the mcdonalds that they just rebuild to look retro.

doctordialtone
doctordialtone on July 4, 2007 at 5:44 pm

The Drive In was managed for years by a guy named Fred Buzzel(sp), who always reported for work in a sport jacket and kept the place spotless. Likewise, he made sure that the landmark sign was painted and in working order each year, since it was such a highlight of the turnpike. I believe the ticket guys even wore red jackets. I was projectionist at the Pike Drive In, and we used to socialize with the staff of the HDI, even have after-movie parties where we would select a few reels (movies are on 20 minute reels) of the best flicks and re-run them after the crowds left. Sometimes the Newington PD would stop in to watch along too. I knew the projectionist, David Graham. We had a friendly rivalry with them and after intermission, the managers would compare car-counts and “PC” (How much each person spent on average) They always booked better movies and it was a challenge to outdo them.

rgdei8
rgdei8 on January 8, 2008 at 3:57 am

ive seen this guys photos a lot online while looking at abandoned hospitals which is one of my true loves for some reason. I dont know what it is about abandoned hospitals and asylums but they jus tdraw me in. Even after ive explored a hospital a few times, the beauty and craftsmanship of a perod of life that I wasent alive to experince just intrigues me like nothing else. Sorry, so as I was saying his pics. are the most beautiful ive seen on abandoned structures.
Ha, doc. i see that you used to work at the old pike drive in. Where exactly was it? I have heard it was down the road where the ford dealer is now, off the turnpike by rt.9
Is that true?

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on January 8, 2008 at 7:08 am

The Pike wasn’t way down there. It was like a block from the Hartford DI. I think there’s a supermarket there now.

doctordialtone
doctordialtone on January 8, 2008 at 9:03 pm

The Pike was 1/8 mile South of McDonald’s back behind DQ. I think it’s a Shaw’s now.

It was owned by Bernie and Sy Menschel, who also owned Vernon Cine ½, Manchester Drive In and Berlin Cine ½.

The Berlin Drive In was where Home Depot is in Berlin on Rt 160. The Berlin became adult movies and took heat from the neighbors, because in the end they installed a sound system that broadcast over the car radio…They had to install very high fences to keep people from stopping on the road nearby to watch – and listen.

rgdei8
rgdei8 on October 26, 2008 at 10:47 pm

Was it bigger back then?

trackmac77
trackmac77 on February 16, 2009 at 11:59 pm

My not-even close, absolute, hands down, all-time favorite Drive-In!!! The Hartford and it’s open-all-Winter triple horror features were a secial treat of the highest order. Films like ‘Zombie Island Massacre’, ‘The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!’, ‘Pieces’, ‘Toolbox Murders’, ‘The House That Cried Murder’, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’, ‘The Deadly Spawn’, ‘Equinox’ (now out on a special Criterion edition!), and the perfectly appropriate ‘Ruby’, not to mention the occasional short subject before the show, dozens of classic and vintage trailers and even some local ads during intermission time. Great popcorn and the best french fries anywhere, all overlooking the effervescence of a sparkling soda in Snack Canyon, the twinkling lights of the valley below and the stars above. Unfortunately, it’s since been sacrificed on the alter of cancerous commerce and now houses…townhouses. I’m thinking it would only be fitting that those townhouses suffer a similar fate as the house in Poltergeist, as characters from films shown there in days gone by all return to reclaim their Hallowed ground…

DaLoEnt.com
DaLoEnt.com on June 22, 2011 at 11:04 pm

My former partner and I attempted to re-open the Hartford Drive-In (about 775 car capacity by our count if I remember correctly — Drive-Ins routinely lied about how many vehicles could be held to help them fleece the film companies who were unsupportive of them at one time — the distribs weren’t stupid by any means as they sent out car-counters to ascertain the amount of business). The reason we did not lease the property is because the owners' (The Elias M. Loew descendants) attorneys wanted something in the ballpark of $75k for a really short season, and in return offered us NOTHING but the keys! The manager’s name was Richard “Dick” Buzzell, not Fred. I worked there, at the Pike, and at Newington Cinema I II III (I have the cinema parking sign in one of my home theaters … for the right price, I MAY be willing to part with it!). I also have a color copy of a photo of the marquee when it was in pretty good condition, from the late 70s, which I am planning to use for an upcoming business venture. Dave Lounder (DaveLounder.com)

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