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Watertown Drive-In Theatre

Frost Bridge Rd & Echo Lake Rd
Watertown CT 06795

Demolished 2004 Outdoor Theatre
Record #9466  
 Opened: June 30, 1955
 Closed: 1984
 Demolished: 2004
Capacity: 992 cars
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
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.


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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