|City/Town: • Clanton
|Location Class: • Theatrical
|Built: • 1954 | Abandoned: • ~1987
|Status: • Abandoned
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit
The Clanton Drive-In Theatre opened on October 15, 1949, with “Pride of the Yankees” starring Gary Cooper. It was owned and operated by Joseph Abel and Myrtle Hardy Jackson. The area was designed for a capacity of 450 cars, a 100-foot screen (as advertised) which towered over bleachers located up front with a seating capacity of 300 people, and playground equipment such as swings and slides for children. People drove for miles to view such iconic 1950s movies such as The Blob (1958), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Forbidden Planet (1956), and The Fly (1958) starring Vincent Price. Due to its convenience, it is said to have put the Wadesonian theaters in Clanton out of business.
The Clanton Drive-In was acclaimed for its landscaping, earning the title of “the showplace of central Alabama.” The long approach to the box offices was lined with shrubbery, figurines, and shaded lights. The entire theater covers an area of approximately 15 acres with a 2,600-foot-highway frontage with four acres of shrubbery bordering the property by natural forest. The Jacksons had a tractor with various attachments including a bulldozer for light grading, several push-type and self-propelled lawnmowers, and a large variety of garden tools. Myrtle was credited for having a “green thumb” and inspiring their employees on maintaining the property’s immaculate landscape.
The drive-in closed sometime in the 1980s and the property was reused as S & H Mobiles Homes. The projection and snack box were torn down, and the speaker boxes were removed to be replaced with mobile homes. That business closed down in 2010. Only the decaying screen remains as well as the flat piece of land for the cars, nowhere even close to being “the showplace of central Alabama” it was once known for.