Drive-In Movie Theaters….. A blast from the past !!

A vanishing item from the landscape are Drive-In Movie Theaters. In scanning items from the Barker – Henry architecture and engineering collection, I recently came across drawings for a drive-in movie theater screen. I thought I’d share these drawings.

Drive-in movie theater screen. Barker Henry Collection. 59-08.



The typical outdoor screen was over 3,600 square feet and rose 64 feet from ground level. Knowing how big these screens are I began to wonder how they could withstand high winds generated by our summer thunderstorms.

Detail of the front elevation of a typical screen.  Barker Henry Collection 59-08.


The profile of the screen shows the necessary metal bracing to protect the screen from blowing over during high winds.  Note too how the screen leans forward 3 feet 8 inches from vertical to adjust for the viewing angle of people sitting in their cars.

Profile view of the screen.   Barker Henry Collection. 59-08.


Of course all that wood and steel used to construct the screen required a large number of concrete footings to support and stabilize the screen.


Concrete footing plan.  Barker Henry Collection. 59.08.


To support the angle of the screen a unique pattern of bracing was necessary. Below are detail drawings of the necessary steel bracing angles.


Detail of the front column brace and base.  Barker Henry Collection. 59-08.


Detail of the rear column base. Barker Henry Collection. 59-08.


edited by Tom Lynch, Collections Manager

contact: [email protected]

Source:   Barker Henry Collection #29

Warren County NY Historical Society, 50 Gurney Lane, Queensbury, NY 12804

Phone: 518-743-0734