Friday, July 29, 2011

Keene's Drive-In Movie Theatre

Like many of New England’s small cities/large towns, Keene, New Hampshire laid claim to one of those 1950s centers for inexpensive entertainment – the drive-in movie theatre. Keene’s single screen facility was located at the corner of Route 101 and Optical Avenue and had a capacity for about 400 cars. It’s not clear when the drive-in first opened, but it appears on a 1958 USGS topographic map and a NH Public TV clip refers to a new owner purchasing the property in 1953. The family-owned, family-run theatre was closed in 1985 and apparently the screen and snack bar were demolished shortly after.

In the 1998 black & white aerial photo below, the triangular outline of the property is quite clear, but you can see that vegetation has begun to reclaim the site. The color photo is from Google maps (2010) – the triangular outline and former rows for the cars are less obvious, but discernible, as vegetation continues to “attack” this unused sandy lot (the sandy soil has inhibited even more rapid revegetation than would normal occur with more organic soil conditions).

No still photos of the Keene Drive-In could be located on-line, but this Youtube links to an older (1980s?) NH Public TV segment on the drive-in and the family that owned it. The TV segment's narrator is storyteller and regional personality, Fritz Weatherbee. For followers of AVI’s blog, AVI is very much a younger version of Weatherbee.

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