Oct. 10: Glen Drive-In Theatre, Queensbury NY

Glen Drive-In Theatre sign lit at night

Photo from the Glen Drive-In Theatre Facebook page

It’s Day 283 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took less than an hour to drive from Broadalbin NY to the Glen Drive-In Theatre on US Highway 9 in Queensbury NY.

You know all the muddy histories and ownership changes I’ve seen over the weeks? Here’s a drive-in with none of that. John Gardner opened the Glen as a single-screen drive-in on May 23, 1958. The Glens Falls Post-Star reported in March 1977 that the Queensbury Zoning Board of Appeals approved plans for a second screen, which would be 80×40 feet and cost about $46,000. At that point, Gardner was still the owner but the Glen was managed by his son, John Gardner Jr. That second screen debuted on May 25, 1977.

In 2012, the Post-Star wrote that John Gardner Jr. “took over” the Glen in 1990, and that the founder’s grandson Brett Gardner had just taken over operations. (That matches John Gardner Jr.’s 2015 obituary which said he ran the Glen until 2012.) “Me and my family have been in this business for a long time,” Brett told the Post-Star, adding that his focus was on providing the best drive-in movie experience possible, “so we can get people in here, and they can have a good time, and we can make a little bit of money.”

During the following offseason, Brett invested about $140,000 on digital projection for both screens. The Post-Star wrote in May 2013 that it “was paid for with a combination of loans and private funds, Gardner said. The price of a ticket is going from $8 to $9 for adults — children are still admitted for $4 — to help recover the cost of the conversion”.

And that’s the whole story. Without a lot of newsworthy drama, it appears that the Gardner family has just been chugging along, keeping the Glen alive while providing entertainment for their community. Other businesses have popped up along the highway, but the Glen remains the same, tucked away surrounded by forest, offering a 1958 time capsule.

Just like the Ozoner 29, the Glen had long since closed for the season. And I couldn’t find a decent video of the place. Darn!

Miles Today / Total: 40 / 32759 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: dark / 177

Nearby Restaurant: When I heard that The Silo served breakfast all day, that was one reason to visit. Another is that it’s been around since the 1980s. And then there was that unmistakeable 35-foot silo outside. Even though it was lunchtime, I enjoyed an Adirondack breakfast sandwich with a cider donut and plenty of coffee on the side. I even picked up some fudge to go at the gift shop.

Where I Virtually Stayed: The Glen is within walking distance of a Red Roof Inn, and since the drive-in was closed I suppose I could have walked along the sidewalk in between. The rate was great, my clean little room actually had the full set of modern amenities, and the spartan continental breakfast was better than nothing. At the price, I had plenty of cash left over to supplement it.

Only in Queensbury: Just six miles north of the Glen on US Highway 9 is a Howard Johnson’s restaurant, the last one still in operation. Howard Johnson’s was the largest restaurant chain in the US throughout the 1960s and 1970s, according to its Wikipedia entry, with more than 1,000 combined company-owned and franchised outlets. There was a rumor early this year that this one might close, but that rumor appears to have been false.

Next stop: Valley Brook Drive In, Lyons Falls NY.