Drive-in theaters used to be commonplace. People would pack the family in the car, pull into a spot, and clip the portable speaker on the window. Over the years, changes came to drive-ins such as listening to the audio over the radio and most recently digital movies, however, I think it is the fact that drive-ins haven’t changed much is what is the allure.
Whether it is because the large swaths of land are more lucrative to be sold for redevelopment, or whether it is too expensive to upgrade to the new technology, or maybe people just aren’t going out to movies as much, slowly drive-ins have been disappearing.
Latrobe is no different.
For more than 60 years, the Hi-Way Drive-In in Latrobe entertained families with its drive-in and Sunday flea market. At its opening, the Hi-Way Drive-In had spaces for over 700 cars and was one of the largest drive-ins in the area.
Unfortunately, over time, not as many people were interested in drive-ins and the cost of keeping up with the equipment upgrades made running the drive-in unprofitable. Sadly, it closed after the 2010.
By this time, CVS was negotiating to purchase the property. There was a lot of resistance among the community because they didn’t want to lose a beloved landmark, especially shortly after losing Mt. View Inn. The owner of the property sent a letter to the township stating that regardless of the outcome of the negotiations with CVS that the drive-in would not reopen the next season.
Unfortunately, after the theater closed it didn’t even last a year before it was torn down. In the summer of 2011 the screen, snack bar, marquee, and all of the equipment was demolished.
I took a few pictures of the outside of the drive-in for a school project back in 2000. As you can see, it wasn’t exactly drive-in season when they were taken, but I’m glad I have them. You can see what was once the entrance and ticket booth as well as the huge movie screen.
Although the property was redeveloped for CVS, CVS only occupies a corner of the property. You can still see where the screen and parking lot once were. You can even see the ramps up to where the ticket booth once was.
I visited the old drive-in property the other day just to see what was left, and there isn’t much to see.
This was the old ramp that lead up to where the ticket booth and screen once were.
Looking at Route 30 where the marquee once stood.
This is standing on the corner of the property approximately where the movie screen once was. The light colored grass was approximately where the playground was and the tree directly in the center was where the project booth/snack bar was.
Time hasn’t been good to the asphalt lot either. There is a lot of buckling and cracking with fairly large trees and weeds coming up through the cracks. On the left-hand side and center of the picture is pretty much the only remnant of the theater — a telephone pole with lights on it to light the parking lots during movies.
It’s a shame that the Hi-Way Drive-In no longer exists, but if you want to support the drive-ins that are left, there are ones in both Mt. Pleasant as well as in Connellsville. I know I’ll be taking my kids there to experience it while the theaters are still around!
To read more about the area’s history, check out this article:
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