New Couple Keeps MO’s Phoenix Running

The Houston (MO) Herald had a fine story yesterday about the relatively new management at the Phoenix Drive-In there. Josh and Jennifer Shelton acquired the place in June 2018, and they’ve got something to do every week because the Phoenix also has an indoor theater.

“It’s going well – it’s busy,” Josh said. “Jennifer always told people we love to watch movies, and that’s a lot easier when you own a theater.”

The single indoor screen holds about 190 patrons, and it’s available for rent for video game parties including wireless controls. The single outdoor field holds “close to 150 vehicles” and operates whenever weather permits, including weekends during this past holiday season.

The Phoenix opened as the Sunset in May 1951 with a capacity of 350 cars (if you believe the Theatre Catalog) or 150 (if you prefer the Motion Picture Almanac). Both sources say “H. E. Lay” ran it at the start, then “R. D. Fischer” (or Fisher) took over around 1955. By 1977, someone named Wyatt was in charge. And some time after the late 1980s, possibly when its screen was blown down and rebuilt, the drive-in was renamed the Phoenix.

The Herald article is accompanied by 11 fine photographs by its author, Doug Davison, who wrote a similar story in the Herald in 2011 about the Phoenix and its then-owner Samantha Thomas. (Even then, the drive-in had already “changed hands several times”.) If you want a happy story about a little drive-in that’s embraced by its community and run by enthusiastic caretakers, go read both articles!