Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Former Theater

Mountain Grove, Missouri

Back on April 24, 2012, I left Houston, MO, where I'd photographed The Phoenix drive-in theater to head for the next theater on my list, at Seymour, MO. US Route 60 alternated stretches of limited access four-lane with older two-lane highway sections, and on one of these I spotted a derelict drive-in theater screen. The screen was missing half of its panels, but the grounds were well-kept. Inside, I found that a permanent flea market was in operation, owned by Willard and Donna Hill. A building at the back of the field had once been a single screen indoor theater (The Phoenix had a similar arrangement, though on different terrain and with both operations still in business).









The theater was out of business when the Hills bought the property many years ago. They've never operated the theaters but I did get to have good talk with Willard before moving along toward Seymour.




6 comments:

griffinsmead said...

He is such a dude. I want to be him in 20 years.

Carl said...

Yes, Willard and the location were both great surprises.

DerekL said...

There's one of those up here in Seattle too. with permanent (if ramshackle) buildings in the former parking/viewing area. Last time I was there, it's snack bar was still almost completely original 70's...

Carl said...

Derek, I didn't get all the way up to Seattle to look for that derelict theater. I got three great venues at Shelton/Bremerton/Port Townsend with distinctive Pacific Northwest settings and so began to head back east after that.

Scott Kirkpatrick said...

I think flea markets tend to drive out other uses. I was surprised that they coexisted well with some of your southwestern drive-ins. In Dutchess County, NY, the owners of a little airstrip tried to raise some extra income with flea markets on one weekend a month, but the side effects were vandalism of planes that had been based there, and runway deterioration. Pretty soon, it was a flea market full time.

scott

Carl said...

Scott, in this case I think the theater had gone out of business before Willard, as new owner, converted the building to a flea market. I think the airstrips would be a different case from the common (probably a majority on last year's travels) practice at DI theaters. The market (called Swap Meet out west) utilizes the theater's downtime, the whole field is meant for cars to drive around on in the first place, and the concession stand does lots of business--as with the movies themselves, the profit all comes from the food at the concession stand, not from the admission price.