Watertown Drive-In Theatre
Frost Bridge Rd & Echo Lake Rd|
Watertown CT 06795
|Record #9466 |
Opened: June 30, 1955|
Capacity: 992 cars|
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: Drive-In City of Watertown|
| Previously operated by: Jade Theatres|
Information for this tour was contributed by Charlie Crowell.
WATERTOWN DRIVE-IN THEATER TIMELINE
1953-54 - Plans to build the drive-in off Litchfield Road north of the center of Watertown receive strong opposition and eventually the idea is abandoned.
1955 - The Watertown Drive-In officially opens June 30th to sold out crowd.
1955 (Aug 18) - After being open only six weeks, the "Flood of '55" washes everything away except the screen.
1956 - The rebuilt drive-in reopens 366 days after original opening.
1958 - This was the peak year for the drive-in business nationally.
1963 - Running low on fuel, a lost New York pilot lands his Piper Cub at the drive-in. The plane suffers minor damage, pilot was unharmed.
1965 - After the completion of Rt. 8, headlight from passing motorist shined on the screen. The owners approached the state for damages to the tune of $40,000+.
1973 - Original owners Fred Sirica and John Quatrano sell (and finance) the drive-in to Jade Theaters.
1976 - Sirica and Quatrano foreclose on Jade Theaters.
1976 - LaFlamme family purchase the site for $205,000. They would run it for 8 years but their intention was to use the land for a dog track. During their ownership an audio system allowing patrons to listen to the movies on their car radios was installed.
1978 - The plan to build a dog race track is voted down in a town referendum by 466 votes.
1970s - Porn films begin playing, some motorist on Rt. 8 protest what can be seen from the highway, others pull over and watch causing a hazardous situation.
1979 - Two smaller additional screens are added.
1984- The Watertown Drive-In closes.
1989 - A damaging tornado sweeps through Watertown, the closed drive-in is used as a dumping ground for mountains of debris.
1990 - A proposed mall for the site, like the dog track 12 year earlier, is rejected.
2002 - The concession stand is demolished.
2004 - Screens taken down
2006 -With the State of Connecticut owning the property, a warehouse is planned for the site.
FACTS - The drive-in covered 21.43 acres -- it was designed for 1000 cars -- hand painted Disney characters were originally used in the decorating scheme -- the original screen was 100' x 52' and towered 90' high -- the first movies shown in 1955 were "Daddy Long-Legs" a musical with Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron and "Canyon Crossroads", a western with Richard Basehart -- in the 70s admission was $5 a carload -- for many years the drive-in was open year round and car heaters were available -- for rainy nights special windshield visors were available.
With the exception of a 1965 aerial view, there are no known photographs of the drive-in during it's years of operation.
Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.
Photos from the Roger Katz collection.
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Last featured 10/23/2004. Last edited 4/13/2013.
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