|City/Town: • Broken Arrow
|Location Class: • Theater
|Built: • 1953 | Abandoned: • 1993
|Status: • Demolished
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz
The Broken Arrow Drive-In coined the ’51 Drive-In’ due to its close proximity to Highway 51, was opened on July 1953. The debut film was The Stars are Singing starring Rosemary Clooney. In 1965 it was officially renamed 51 Drive-In while under B.H. Stevens ownership. It was a single screen with a 280 car capacity allowing for a sizeable crowd to gather and watch the outdoor films.
The Drive-In cost $10,000 after construction and equipment were all said and done. The grand opening date was scheduled for June 31, 1953, but was postponed due to a large trunk carrying gravel falling through their septic tank, removal was not possible until the next day. J. H. Rush, the manager said “That wasn’t the end of our troubles,” he continued. “The next night a faulty connection caused several speakers to go dead and we had to refund everyone’s’ money. Now, however, everything is going fine and we believe we have ironed out all of the kinks and are looking forward to our formal opening soon” he said.
Tragically, a small tornado hit in May of 1993 damaging the screen, with the already very little business that the 51 Drive-In and many others had been experiencing the drive-in was closed.
Article by AOK Photojournalist Emily Cowan.
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