HomeDrive-In TheatersDearborn Drive-In Theatre - Dearborn, MI

Dearborn Drive-In Theatre

Address: 26500 Ford Rd
City: Dearborn
State: MI
Zip: 48206
County: Wayne
Open: 1948 (7-23-48)
Closed: 1984
Capacity: 1040
Owner History: N/A
Number of visits to this page: 20312
Notes: 2 Screens
Info Updates:
5/9/2016 - Mark Querbach
I'm back, almost 4 years after my first post. Glad I came back, because I remember some of those that have posted since. Dave Keliher, I remember you because you were starting as I was getting ready to move on. And Ron Swanson, of course I remember you. I almost felt like a member of your family for a few years there. Steve Burgoyne, I think I remember hanging out with you at the drive-in. do you remember Linda Oliver's yellow VW Bug? Dearborn was so much a part of my early days. wish we could have a reunion! Some others that I remember (with apologies to those who's names escape me): Margaret Swanson (Ron's wife), Barry Packwood, Walt Knock, Marcy Coffman, Carlene Jarema, Clyde Bump Lewis, Jan Gebski, Cherry, Patti, Sandy McGahan, and so many more!.
6/12/2015 - Jeff Howell
Yes Tony Hopkins, I remember floor hockey in the Wellever gym, In fact, I played against you many times I remember summer recreation in that gym was one of the summer highlights. The Drive In was always part of the background.
6/1/2015 - Steve Burgoyne
Bud Thompson Passed in August 1999 just before his 79th Birthday in San Diego Ca area. He was a great guy and these stories I hear of him are a good testament of who he was. He had a great sense of humor he loved the people he worked with.
5/5/2015 - Tony Urso
Does anyone have a picture of the day camp next to the drive in? I would love to see that tank and fighter plane again.
11/14/2014 - Anthony Hopkins
I remember going to this drive in so many times and it was when a movie was playing there I was in the yard of Wellever school by the swings watching the movie which I can't remember which one was playing at the time with a girl who I liked back then. Why can't I find pictures of the school ? They seem to always get rid of childhood memories sad but true. PS : does anyone remember the floor hockey there and Applesauce lol :).
7/16/2014 - Mark
Thank you to both Jeffs. really good information provided. So it wasnt a Zero airplane. I recall it was painted all silver with a red ball/red sun on its fuselage and tail so I had always assumed it was a japenese zero. glad to now know thats the way it really was. but still it was fun to think all those years it was a japenese zero in our own backyard. mark.
5/11/2014 - Jeff
The Sherman tank was sold and carted away when the daycare closed around 1983-84. I actually watched them lift the tank onto the flatbed truck from the Post office next door. The tank was in really good shape. At some point on the net a few years ago I came across a story about that tank. Some guy in Ohio restored it. The plane next to it was NOT a Zero. It was a US trainer (Texan?). Believe me, if it was a Zero, it would have been sold a long, long time ago to some enthusiast as the Zero is a very rare plane. I played on both on them as a youth during the summers of 1969-74. The site is now a post office that replaced the older one that was next to the daycare.
2/21/2014 - Jeff Howell
I lived on Cambourne St. until 75-76, you used to be able to get into the train sheds through a hole in the sheet metal I believe the tank and zero were in front of a daycamp that was next to the drive-in, opposite of wellever. It may have disappeared when the post office was built, not really sure on that. Saw a lot of great movies at the drive-in Lots of fond memories.
8/7/2013 - Mark
Thanks much Jim Blaney and Michele. Do any of you recall the life size army tank and japanese zero airplane in the school's playground that faced Ford Road? I believe this is the school that had these items in the playground I would see as a little boy while we drove by the school. Those were great days and great memories. now just so so. Any photos of that bygone era of the school and playground would be greatly appreciated. kind regards. mark.
7/27/2013 - Jim Blaney
I lived on Midway Drive from 1964-66. My backyard backed up to thedrive-in. I attended Wellever for kindergarten and 1st grade. Nothing but fond memories of the neighborhood.
6/30/2013 - MICHELE
Wellever. I went to kindergarten there. That entrance was on the far west side of the building. The bus pulled up, we got out, and entered our classroom. Not too sure about the rest of the building.
6/7/2013 - Mark
hi - does anybody here recall the name of the small elementary school next door to the Dearaborn Drive-In? The school had a life size japanese zero air plane and army tank parked inside the school's playground for years? Any photos of the school would be much appreciated.
5/28/2013 - Jim Dubensky
This theater closed after 1985. I worked there the summer of 1985 as an usher and was responsible for changing the marquee. It was the summer of Back to the Future as well as Fletch and Explorers. I worked until that fall. Not sure when it closed, but I was there for the summer of 1985. My least favorite part of the job was in mid-summer there would be triple features - so you'd have to go around and turn off any speakers left on so they wouldn't be blaring past midnight because there were houses on a few sides of the drive in.
3/26/2013 - dave keliher
I went to Wellever Elementary in the 1960's and the Drive In was just part of the environment. We used to ride our bikes past there in the summer and one day we rode in and asked the maintenance guy if we could play on their playground and he told us to get a note from our parents. So we did. Some years later we would sit near the loading dock of Wellever and watch movies. Sometimes there were enough speakers on and not enough cars to contain them and we would get the audio, too. I hoped one day I would get a job there. In the summer of '74 I was wandering past, on my way to meet a friend a Tri-Daily Drugs, and I stopped in and asked about a job. Harry Bud Thompson was the man I talked to. He asked me how old I was and I said sixteen. He asked me what year I was born and I had to do the math so it took me a second to subtract a year. After I told him he laughed and gave me a job as an usher and had me start that night. I worked with Barry and…his friend whose name escapes me. They were both from Garden City and I was at Crestwood but it didn't matter to us. I'll have to come back and write some more. I was there for three years, through my senior year. It was one of the craziest places to grow up. Man, just makes me smile to think of some of those times. Too bad it's gone. Oh. By the way, I was just sitting here studying some accounting when I thought of Bud Thompson. I wanted to thank him for giving me that job. He was a great manager, and a great guy. If he's still with us, I hope he's enjoying himself.
12/13/2012 - Ron Swanson
I was employed by General Cinema Corp. as the Assistant(concession)Manager, and as Theatre Manager from 1965 to 1967. I have many fond memories of the great family of employees that I had the privilege of working with during the heyday of the Dearborn Drive-In.
9/25/2012 - Jason Waterstradt
Jim Connon, Small world, I used to live on Dwight St and my parents still do. What was your old address??.
9/20/2012 - Steve Burgoyne
Mark Great Memory you have. Harry Thompson was my grandfather. I used to visit every summer. He would Pay my brother and I to pick up the lot the next day.
8/23/2012 - Jim Connon
I lived in Dearborn Heights from 1969-1976 and lived on Dwight Street. We used to sit up in a friend's tree and watch the movies - sans sound. I have vivid memories of the train in it's garage and going over to climb in and out during the dog days of summer. For some reason we always felt like we were getting away with something when we'd go over and visit! I remember rumors of a couple of high school kids (Crestwood was the high school) climbing to the top of the screen and falling/jumping off - to their deaths. We'd search for blood-covered pebbles up near the screen for hours and hours - yet never found any. I attended Wellever Elementary (Mr. Boatright was the principal) and remember many wonderful teachers - Mrs. Leslie, Mrs. Wassel, Mrs. Fink - and one old goat named Mr. Ropek!.
7/25/2012 - Mark Querbach
My first real job was at the DDI. 1973, I fudged my age and got hired as an usher when I was 15. $1. 35/hour. Barry and Rob were the other ushers, and we had a great group in the concession stand as well. Harry Thompson was the manager, Steve Yakush ran the concession stand. Many great memories from my time there.
4/8/2011 - glenn
When we moved to Garden City in 1955 I saw the Dearborn Dive-in for the first time. My Father took the entire family ( five of us ) for 99 cents many times. That is what it cost for a car load. In the fifties and sixties they actually sprayed the entire drive-in for mosquitos. A jeep would go up and down each row of cars and fog the area for bugs. Even though we didn't get to go on it very much, I remember the train located in front of the screen. As a kid it seemed so gigantic. There was no skimping or price gouging in those days, you got what you paid for and even more. I had many dates dates with quite a few girlfriends at the Dearborn Drive-in and even after I was married we still went there with our two young Sons. In the seventies my two Sons would sit on our garage roof and watch the fireworks at the drive-in. ( we lived over in Garden City. ) This site sure sparked some memories. thanks!.
10/22/2010 - Randy Lindley
I lived in Inkster on Oakwood Ave and went to Parkwood Elementary. We would go to the Dearborn Drive Inn alot and play on the playground. Loved that place growing up.
2/27/2010 - richard
I recall the Dearborn Drive-in fondly. Our family lived in Inkster on Parkwood St. near Inkster Rd. My little brother went to the pre-school next to the Dearborn. We use to go to see a movie at least twicee a month in good weather, I recall my Father would clean the windshield on the car before hand, We would first go to the playground in front of the screen. Then ride the mini train on the side of the lot. Then to the great snack bar.
I also recall fireworks show at the drive-in The last movie I remember seeing was Hitchcock''s "The Birds" in 1963. In Oct 1963 we moved to Milwaukee where My Dad had a new jod. I attended Breke Elementary School in Inkster through fourth grade. I last visited the area in 1987 & the drive-in location is now a Farmer Jacks Market
Many happy memories were had there.
1/30/2010 - Ed Cooper
I enjoyed the Dearborn Drive-In very much as a kid. I lived on Dwight behind the Drive-In and could watch the movies from my parents bedroom window. I always imagined running a speaker wire through the neighborhood. I attended Wellaver and we built many of tree forts in the school yard along the fence and well over the fence. Although we never watched from the forts we did occasionally sneak in under the fence. Our big claim to fame was sneaking in to the train shed durring the day to play. We also liked to see who could walk the rail all the way around without falling off. Many of movies our family would enjoy at the Drive-In. I remember Dad always stopping at the A&W for a glass gallon jug of Rootbeer before each outing. My mother could never watch a movie without an Egg-Roll from the drive-in consession. When we went the entire drive-in was ours to explore. From the playground in the front to the last rows where the teenagers would well you know.....be safe? Not like today. Who could forget the electric heaters and dad trying to place the car at the perfect angle on the parking mounds. Where there chairs in front of the consession or am I thinking of the movie The Outsiders? I do remember seeing King Kong at the Dearborn Drive-In.
10/9/2009 - marva
I had many dates from 1952 to 1954 with my boy friend and now husband at the Dearborn Drive-In. There are many memories from that time period. There were many drive-in movies. After the show we used to go to the Park Drive In restaurant to eat. It was on Ford Road east of Outer Drive. They had great hamburgers there. Don''t know if it is still there, must check it out one day. We lived near Ford Road and Southfield, (which was not a freeway then) and all the fields belonged to Henry Ford and were planted with crops.
6/22/2009 - Jimpie
I noticed that the address was listed incorrectly. It should be 26500 Ford Rd, Dearborn Heights, MI 48127. It was just outside of Dearborn in what was Dearborn Townsip at the time.
6/2/2009 - Mike Phillips
The day camp was called Real Life Day Camp and it was just east of the Drive-in. It had a white wooden fence around it. I saw it so many times from the backseat of my parents Ford as we drove into the Drive-in. I would ride my bike there and wish that I could go in and play. I loved seeing the tank and an old fire truck there. As a young child I remember the Drive-in playground and later as a young adult I remember watching movies from the back porch of my first house. I saw "The Longest Yard" hundreds of times. I still miss that Drive-in and the old jeep that had you choking from the Mosquito killer if you parked too close to the screen.
1/8/2009 - Jeff
There is one photo that shows the Target store as the location of this drive-in. That is incorrect. The Target store is on the spot where Welliver (sp?) elementary school was located. We used to sneak into the drive-in by climbing the playground fence. The drive-in was located where the main part of the stripmall is. Do any of you remember that daycare center that had the Sherman tank and airplane? Continuing east, right next to the daycare center, was the post office.
7/2/2008 - Jake Nelson
I am almost 100% sure this theater closed in 1985, not 1984. I remember my Mom saying she was going to take me here see "Godzilla 1985" around Halloween of 1985 (I looked this up and that film was in it''s theatrical run at that time), plus I have the memory of the picture "D.A.R.Y.L" (which was released in June 1985) playing here on the 2nd screen when I went to see something here as a kid (because instead of watching the movie on our screen, we tuned into that one). That is one of the things I remember most about this theater: ONE screen was speaker sound and the other was radio, so you could tune into the feature that played behind you if you choose. More evidence that the close date may be correct is that shortly before this theater closed, I remember being in the snack bar and seeing a poster for "Fright Night" (released August 1985) along side a poster for "Weird Science" (released in August 1985 as well). I can also remember going to see "the Goonies" along with "Gremlins" as the second feature (another 1985 release) and recall that "Pee-Wee''s Big Adventure" played behind at the main theater. So, I don''t think this theater closed in 1984, rather 1985 and was torn down within a matter of months of it''s final showing. I may look into using Detroit News microfilm to find this out, if somebody else does not.
6/25/2007 - Amber Jessamine
I should also mention that Soupy Sales used to come to the Dearborn Drive In most every month. I always caught him and his family at their car and would chat with them. He was always very nice and cordial. Oh my this site is bringing back so many memories. Thanks for making it.
6/25/2007 - Amber
I have many vivid memories of the Dearborn drive in, My grandmother was the manager of the concession. I sat through so many movies on a nightly basis, for years, since she was my guardian. I must have seen each movie at least 6 times and actually started to memorize the words to each show. I miss those days and the film guys and all the freebies. The July 4 nights were great!! Standing out in the field and watching the fireworks or in your cars. they could be seen over in Inkster.. Later my grandmother was transferred to the Wayne Drive in...another great time of memories are there also. It would be so wonderful if we could bring those days back so our children could experience the drive in and the easy times we had. Remember the playground before the shows? so much fun. wish I could post a picture of my grandmother, I''m sure many would remember her. Her name was Erma.
4/4/2007 - Dave
The Dearborn used to have a fireworks show every 4th of July. We used to watch them from our house in Garden City about 1.5 miles away.
11/1/2006 - Dave - Bronx NY
When I worked in the Detroit area for General Cinema in the 1970s the Dearborn, East Side and West Side Diive Ins were all owned by General Cinema. In the photo showing the back of the screen tower and the pylon sign, the pylon shows the name of the theatre with the GCC-style sign letters.
1/11/2004 - Cinema Treasures
The Dearborn Drive-In opened in 1948 by Komer and Goldberg and had space for 1040 cars. During its early years, the drive-in also boasted a mini-train ride for children. The Wisper & Wetsman chain acquired the Dearborn during the 60s, and operated it until 1979, when it was taken over by Wayne Amusements, which added a second screen shortly thereafter, and increased capacity to over 1200. The drive-in was closed in 1984, and demolished two years later to make way for a shopping center.
10/16/2003 - MichiganDriveIns.com
About 1975 or 6 we went to the Dearborn Drive-In often. My best friend, Bill, met and a few years later, married Lori, then the manager of the Dearborn Drive-In. She later took over management at the Calvin Theater in West Dearborn, MI. Management changed and she took over management of The Lakes Drive-In in Brighton, MI. She later took over management at the Howell Theatre in Howell, MI. Bill became manager of The Lakes. They offered me the opportunity to be projectionist. Whisper and Wetsman Theaters in Birmingham, MI. owned several theaters and drive-ins in my time from 1979 to 1985. Seasonally, I often helped board up The Lakes Drive-In, Mt. Pleasant Drive-In, The West Side Drive-In, The Walake Drive-In. In the mid 80s, from what I understand, one of the partners died. As the companys property leases expired and the surviving partner was getting on in years, I finally assisted in permantly closing each drive-in, and several of the companys theaters, down; taking apart projectors, packing splicers, disconnecting motorized and hand rewinders... I tried to get away with the intermission reels. No luck. As I see no mention of W&W Theaters I hope Ive provided some noteworthy information. My memories of my Drive-In years are the most pleasant of my life.(dragonlordrulez@netzero.net 12-31-02)
1/6/2003 - Drive-Ins.com
My family and I always preferred the Algiers in Westland... however, we spent a lot of time at the Dearborn, too. The Dearborn had a train in the playground, which I thought was cool. Francie
1/6/2003 - Drive-Ins.com
Originally built with double ramps and capacity of 1800 cars, remodeled in the early 60s single ramps installed lowered capacity to about 1200. R. Fredrick
1/6/2003 - Drive-Ins.com
It was opened in 1948 and at one time was the most profitable drive-in in the U.S. It was torn down April 1, 1986 at 9:52 a.m. (to be specific!) The Dearborn Drive-In was located next to my elementary school. Unfortunately, after the Drive In was torn down, the school came down too. Today, both sites house a Target department store, A huge Farmer Jack Grocery Store, and about 30 other retail stores. Joe Miller
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - DEARBORN DEMO 1986
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - DEARBORN DEMO 1986
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - DEARBORN DEMO 1986
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - DEARBORN DEMO 1986
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - ORIGINAL SNACKBAR 1964
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - FROM BRAD NIETUBICZ
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - FROM BRAD NIETUBICZ
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - DEARBORN GRAND OPENING AD 7-23-48
Dearborn Drive-In Theatre - OLD AERIAL
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