Cinema Treasures has a complete history for the Springmill, one of the few remaining drive-ins with an original, ornate screen tower. It opened in June 1950, built and owned by Charles & William Mosser (dba Fremont Drive-In Theatres) and had a capacity for 620 cars. The Mossers also owned the Fremont Drive-In in Fremont OH and the Fremont Construction Co., which built both drive-ins.
Charles Mosser passed away in 1971, and daughter Janet Sweeney took control of Fremont Drive-In Theatres Inc. Later on, the theatre was part of the Jack Armstrong Circuit and Robert Tilton Associates. Although I can’t find a date for it, by looking at the screen it’s obvious that at some point the original screen was expanded to accommodate wide-format movies.
In 1982, the Great Eastern Theatre Co began operating the Springmill, and in November 1985, they bought it from Janet Sweeney and Fremont Theatres. A second screen went up in 2008; the second viewing field, carved off from the original, can accommodate 150 cars.
A 2014 article in the Mansfield News-Journal wrote that Chris Davis, “who leases the Springmill Drive-In from owner Great Eastern Theatres of Toledo,” spent about $150,000 to update both projectors that spring. “We had to make some structural changes to the projection rooms as far as the HVAC is concerned,” Davis said.
A commenter on Cinema Treasures wrote that around late 2015, “the manager of the DI who worked for Great Eastern” had purchased the Springmill from the company. I hope that means that Davis now owns the place he spent so much time improving.
I was saved again by a second screen. With Screen 1 showing The Emoji Movie, I turned away to watch Girls Trip, a surprisingly funny movie, for a second time.
Miles Today / Total: 82 / 26797 (rounded to the nearest mile)
Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Girls Trip / 134
Nearby Restaurant: After the museum (see below) got me thinking of New York, I was glad to find the Coney Island Diner just a few blocks away. Just as you’d expect, the specialties here are coney dogs and fries, and I saved just enough room for the Nutty Professor Banana Split, which was really just a regular banana split made with butter pecan ice cream.
Where I Virtually Stayed: Mansfield is large enough to present me with a tough question: Should I save some cash and stay at a perfectly good La Quinta? Or should I go ahead with the safe choice of my third straight Hampton Inn? I went with the fresh new Hampton on the south side of town. My room had the full set of amenities, breakfast looked very familiar, in a good way, and all was well.
Only in Mansfield: You can find Elektro, the seven-foot robot that was a hit of the New York 1939 World’s Fair, at the Mansfield Memorial Museum. Built at Westinghouse’s Mansfield plant, Elektro could walk by voice command, speak about 700 words (using a 78-rpm record player), smoke cigarettes, blow up balloons, and move his head and arms. Elektro’s more sedate these days, but his custodians hope to restore some of those capacities one day, along with a replica of his robot dog pal, Sparko.
Next stop: Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater, Tiffin OH.