I’m happy to have some really good news to report. Local entrepreneur Paul Cole is pouring half a million dollars to renovate and reopen a prized drive-in of his youth – the Rose City in Newark NY. The story came to us first from the Finger Lake Times, and WROC, Rochester’s News Leader, followed up with the YouTube video you hopefully see above.
“I remember coming here as a kid,” Cole told the Times. “They used to have a playground in the back. We were here the night my mother broke water with my brother. That was 1975.” The Rose City stayed alive for another decade, closing after the 1985 season. (Not 1981, as the Times erroneously wrote.)
Cole purchased the property this year from the estate of the late Eugene Colacino. The original screen, 100×45 feet, is still standing after decades of overlooking Highway 31. Recent aerial photos suggest that the original ramps are still in place. But the screen needs some cleanup, and for the concession-projection building, Cole is pretty much starting from scratch.
WROC said that Cole plans to have a soft launch in the fall, with an official opening following next April. (That sounds like what the reborn Tee Pee Drive-In of Sapulpa OK did last fall and this spring.) It’s great to see another classic drive-in getting restored to a modern version of its former glory.
Ghoulish? Maybe. In an April full of stories about drive-ins reopening for another season, I’m relaying one about the final day of a retired screen.
The Sunset Drive-In in Ontario OH closed in 2015, and Joe Lykins bought the property in 2019. Lykins disassembles old barns and uses their vintage wood to build new structures, and he needed room to work. According to the Mansfield News Journal, Lykins recently needed to add a retaining pool to the property, and that meant the screen had to go. The newspaper captured a fine video of the screen-toppling last week.
In the accompanying news story, Lykins said the drive-in wasn’t economically viable. He tried to give away the screen, but had no takers. “People are going to hate me,” he said.
According to Cinema Treasures, the drive-in opened in 1947 as the Mansfield-Galion. It was renamed the Sunset before the 1953 season. It persisted as a family-owned business until the movie studios’ digital imperative required theaters to buy expensive new projectors or close. The Sunset chose to go dark when film ran out.
There are more details and photos about this somber story at the News Journal site. If you’d like to know more, go read it!
Tulsa OK’s Admiral Twin Drive-In has reopened for the season after fixing minor damage to its west screen. During the off-season, winds had blown out a few screen panels, so owner Blake Smith needed to make the first repair to the structure since it was rebuilt following a fire in September 2010.
All of this news and video came to us through KOTV, Tulsa’s News Leader, which ran a nice segment on the Admiral a couple of days before it reopened.
As I wrote in last year’s Drive-Ins of Route 66, Blake’s father, Richard D. Smith, bought the Admiral Twin around 1987 from General Cinema Corp., run at the time by Richard A. Smith. Blake officially took over in 2000.
I’ll admit that there’s not much news in the Admiral Twin’s new season, but it’s just great to get another video showing what the venerable drive-in looks like these days. Enjoy!