Wichita Falls Used to Have Six Awesome Drive-In Movie Theaters Back in the Day
Seems like we complain about the movie theaters in our town a lot these days, but we used to have some awesome drive-ins here in Wichita Falls.
The drive-in movie theatre used to be something you would see all over America. Sadly, those days have come and gone. Only 338 exist in the U.S. now. At their peak, we had over four thousand across the country and six of them were right here in Wichita Falls.
I loved going to drive-ins as a kid, growing up in Maryland we had two. I finally got to go to the closest one to us in Graham this past summer. I wish we had one in the Falls, but I don't think it would survive our summers.
I want to thank Julie Coley for providing some photos for this story. She has more great photos of the past in Wichita Falls in her book. Check it out if you love old-school stuff like this. All info on the drive-ins was taken from Cinema Treasure. If you have a drive-in from your childhood, they definitely have it on there.
This place sounds amazing. It had a 400-car theatre, and above the snack bar, it had an 400-seat auditorium, according to Cinema Treasures. I have never seen a drive-in with balcony seating and I wish I was alive to have seen it in action. The Grant Drive-In was in operation from 1952-1964.
Looks like this one was in downtown Wichita Falls. The first movie played there was the 1948 version of 'The Three Musketeers'. The drive-in opened in 1949 and closed in 1965. Looks like on Google Street View it was in the area where The Browse Shop is today.
Follow me on this one. So this drive-in opened in 1950. According to reports, the old manager of the place Stanley Easling had a five-bedroom apartment that was located behind the screen. How cool is that? Sadly, the drive-in closed in 1978.
I don't have a lot of info on this one. We know it opened in 1954, but not really sure when it officially closed down. Aerial photos were taken in 1971 show where it would have been between Highway 369 and Professional Drive on Highway 79, but from the photos taken it had been closed for quite awhile at that point. The drive-in could hold 640 cars.
This is something I have always heard about but never actually seen - a two-screen drive-in. Usually, one screen is playing a kids movie and the other is playing one for the adults. Sounds awesome, but I have never actually been to an open one. The Falls Drive-in opened in 1948 with only one screen, in 1950 the second screen was added and renamed Twin Falls Drive-In. It would close in 1979.
May have saved the best for last. This one originally opened in 1947 under the name Open Air Drive-In. Then in 1952 they added a second screen and changed the name to the Twin Sheppard. In 1954, they increased the size of the screens for cinemascope movies. Basically the invention of widescreen. In 1960 looks like they were doing anything to get business so they started showing exploitation movies. If you have seen 'Grindhouse' that is the kind of stuff they would show late at night. They would close that same year.