Capitol Drive-In

4646 NE 14th Street,
Des Moines, IA 50313

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: Central States Theatres Corp

Architects: Lloyd Hirstine

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Capitol Drive-In

The Capitol Drive-In was opened September 19, 1952 with Kirk Douglas in “The Big Trees” and Cameron Mitchell in “Gallant Bess”. It had a capacity for 728 cars. It was located half a mile north of the city on NE 14th Street at NE Broadway Avenue. It was razed in the early-1980’s.

This drive-in was in a class well above those gravelly places with bad sound systems. Here you had mid-century modern styling, a concession stand with a seating patio (popular with matinees), and a playground, not-to-mention state-of-the-art sound. Yes, it wasn’t in the best part of town–and that probably contributed to its demise. But in its day… Drivers at night-time on nearby I-80 would see this huge image of a glowing neon clown, thinking maybe gambling was legal in a state like Iowa. No, that was just the sign for the Capitol Drive-In.

Contributed by Calmuse

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

kencmcintyre on June 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Here is a December 1965 ad from the Des Moines Register:

rivest266 on November 29, 2015 at 8:43 am

September 19th, 1952 grand opening ad in photo section.

DavidZornig on March 12, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Letterhead & copy added courtesy of Rusty Hayes. “Years ago I worked at the Capitol Drive-In. When they were tearing it down I managed to salvage this letterhead from the debris.” John Cannon also added “In the late 60s, Lloyd Hirstine owned it. His son Richard was the assistant manager.”

davidcoppock on May 29, 2018 at 11:36 pm

The ramps and entrance(and exit?) road/s may still be there under the overgrown site? Unknown what else may still be there on the site?

MichaelKilgore on December 28, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Boxoffice ran a full-age article on the Capitol in its Dec. 6, 1952 issue. “The screen tower, built of wood and enclosed with fireproof Transite, houses the manager’s office and storage space. Size of the picture screen is 62½x45½ feet.”

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