Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The HILAND Drive-in Theater

Rural Retreat, Virginia

The view from the back of the field doesn't show the most unusual thing about this drive-in theater in southwestern Virginia. Built in 1952, the fully enclosed screen tower has always contained family living quarters. A reader commented here yesterday to say that as a child he loved overnight stays with relatives who owned, I suspect, this theater.

When I visited, in 2003, it was a busy, successful operation with all the theater facilities in immaculate condition. More amazing though, the living quarters had recently been refurbished at an incredible level of detail and execution.

This is the ground floor kitchen and living room area. The second floor is also fully finished as bedrooms, bathrooms, and a den, while farther up into the tower interior there are several more levels of storage space.


Edd Fuller said...

Carl, I really enjoyed seeing this even though it is not the theatre that I visited as a child. I particularly liked the interior picture, which in space and proportion is very like what I remember from my visits to the drive-in in Pearisburg, Virginia during the late 50s though early 70s. Unfortunately, the theatre in Pearisburg is gone now.

Carl said...

Edd, well I'd hoped it would be "your" drive-in. I know the one in Pearisburg is gone, I've shot in that little town and looked for the missing theater. Drive-ins with homes built-in were rare but not unique. I've also photographed one, a very different design, in Shinnston, WV, and have read about several others scattered around the country.

Scott Kirkpatrick said...

Carl, congratulations on your NY Times coverage of the DI project. I loved the Council Bluffs ticket office with its swooping roof.


Carl said...

Thanks, Scott. On Council Bluffs, talk about "vernacular architecture"--they took a piece of corrugated metal fencing material and made a fantasy structure from it. Fantastic.