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Niner National

Doing a research project and need some people that grew up in Charlotte to help me out

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I'm not sure if this is the right place (and feel free to move it if its not), but I'm doing a research project on the Queen Park Drive-in that was once off of South Blvd. I thought it would be an interesting choice to do a research project on, but I'm coming up empty in every attempt to find information on this place. Does anyone remember when this place actually existed? Can anyone tell me anything about it?

Does anyone have any suggestions of how I could find information on it? I've tried going to the register of deeds to look up a chain of title, but that turned up nothing (and the people there didn't really seem like they wanted to help). The only thing I found in the deeds office with the name queen park was the queen park business center that sits there now. Anyway, I thought some people here might know something about it. Thanks.

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I moved to Charlotte in 1978 and the theater was still operational in those days but I think it had succumbed to showing pornos like the other drive-ins in Charlotte did by then. This was the demise of most of the drive-ins that were going out of business by then and it was so prevalent across the country they made a skit about it on SNL. I think the Queen Park drive-in probably closed in '81 or '82 but I don't quite remember. The screen was torn down and was replaced by a small strip mall and a 3 screen movie theater. The movie theater was un-remarkable but it's probably the reason they didn't tear down the marquee tower that is still there today as it served the same purpose for the multiplex for years. (it's now also gone and replaced by the Lynx P&R lot)

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I moved to Charlotte in 1978 and the theater was still operational in those days but I think it had succumbed to showing pornos like the other drive-ins in Charlotte did by then. This was the demise of most of the drive-ins that were going out of business by then and it was so prevalent across the country they made a skit about it on SNL. I think the Queen Park drive-in probably closed in '81 or '82 but I don't quite remember. The screen was torn down and was replaced by a small strip mall and a 3 screen movie theater. The movie theater was un-remarkable but it's probably the reason they didn't tear down the marquee tower that is still there today as it served the same purpose for the multiplex for years. (it's now also gone and replaced by the Lynx P&R lot)

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I'm doing a research project on the Queen Park Drive-in that was once off of South Blvd. Does anyone remember when this place actually existed? Can anyone tell me anything about it?

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Good idea. I think going through the city directories for a year of opening would be best (and easiest) and then scrolling through microfilm for an exact month rather than scrolling through possibly years worth of microfilm. I saw on one website that it opened in 1964, so I figure I'll start with '63 and see if its there, if not, then move onto 1964. If so, I'll just keep going back years until its listed.

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interesting, thanks. Can you tell me a little about south blvd at that time?

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thanks, that's a good help (as I must comment on why it was there, its surroundings, and why it is now gone). I'll go to the library on friday since I don't have classes or work and try to gather some information. I'll be sure to let you guys know if I find out anything interesting as I noticed in the "queen park" thread that nobody really knew many details about the place.

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Skyland Restaurant, now on a side street/strip center north of Woodlawn Rd. was located on the east side of Woodlawn, at Seneca Place. Atlantic Mills was a super store about a quarter mile or half mile north of Woodlawn, on the east side of the street, which sat down the hill from the street and had a visibility problem, but a colorful big sign. I remember going to the QP drive in in 1967, and it was a few years old then. When the indoor theatres replaced the outdoor screen, the lobby had a large number of video games such as Centipede, Galaga, Pac-Man, etc. Bell's Hamburgers was located at the corner of Scaleybark, where the current fast food place is, behind the gas station. South 21 did a great business and had a quarter fried chicken dinner plate for 67 cents, a special several times per week. Harris Supermarket (later to become Harris Teeter) was in the strip center across the street from the Pepsi plant. Durane Gas was up the road a bit, on the east side of South Blvd. Columbus Oil Company, a locally owned home fuel oil business was located directly across McDonald from Mr. K's. Across South Blvd, and a block south of Mr. K's was one of the original odd looking Hardee's, with a big spired roof. Later came a McDonald's on the same side of the road, closer to Clanton Rd., but it was originally outdoor dining only. In Dilworth, on the east side of South Blvd., heading north past East Blvd. and before Park Ave. was a one screen theatre.

Some tidbits I recall about South Blvd.

We have South Blvd., East Blvd., West Blvd., but no North Blvd.

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...as I must comment on why it was there, its surroundings, and why it is now gone...

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Everyone's response has been good. I would add a few things:

  • The Tyber Pub in SouthEnd was called The Carafe in the late 70s and was quite derelict and rowdy. Obviously, 1979Heel was a regular ;)

  • There was a Club Bath on South Blvd next to the oyster bar just north of the East/West intersection. This would have been late 70s-early 80s. Later it became a flophouse. The building is rehabbed and still there.

  • I remember the drive in from the early-mid 60s. I remember going there with babysitters when my parents had gone out for the evening. The South 21 was across the street. That part of South Blvd., from Seneca north to Remount looks pretty much the same today, except for Lynx.

  • I liked the old Skyland better. It looked more a 50s diner. Atlantic Mills was so gross. I remember seeing "colored" and "white" over the water fountains and rest rooms there. There used to be a Teeter at Seneca and South, where Office Depot/Max? is now. The neighborhood theater on South, just north of East/West intersection was where My Fair Lady played. This would have been ~1964. Not the Visulite, not the Center, I've forgotten the name (it wasn't the Dilworth.)

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When I think back to the 60's & 70's, I think of South Blvd as sort of a corridor of entertainment. Seasonal carnivals would set up every spring at Starmount Shopping Center, Zayre Shopping Center (Woodlawn & South Blvd) and Atlantic Mills. I loved those days when I could actually ride my bike on S. Blvd. You had the South 21 Drive-In and across the street the drive-in movie theater. Zacks Hamburgers in the mid-70's (still operating today) a go-kart track behind Zacks and a skateboard park across the street from Zacks. Towards town you had the Dilworth Theater, and there was even a short-lived small movie house called Mini-Cinema at Seneca & South. During the 70's a Waterslide was added on the southern end of South Blvd in the location that is now Golden Corral. South Blvd was a major hub of activity during the 60's & 70's and the decline seemed to come in the late 70's.

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When I think back to the 60's & 70's, I think of South Blvd as sort of a corridor of entertainment. Seasonal carnivals would set up every spring at Starmount Shopping Center, Zayre Shopping Center (Woodlawn & South Blvd) and Atlantic Mills. I loved those days when I could actually ride my bike on S. Blvd. You had the South 21 Drive-In and across the street the drive-in movie theater. Zacks Hamburgers in the mid-70's (still operating today) a go-kart track behind Zacks and a skateboard park across the street from Zacks. Towards town you had the Dilworth Theater, and there was even a short-lived small movie house called Mini-Cinema at Seneca & South. During the 70's a Waterslide was added on the southern end of South Blvd in the location that is now Golden Corral. South Blvd was a major hub of activity during the 60's & 70's and the decline seemed to come in the late 70's.

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We have South Blvd., East Blvd., West Blvd., but no North Blvd.

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I had my first date ever at The QP. I was 16 and had just gotten my driver's license. A buddy and I were approached by two young ladies in the school yard who wanted to "see a movie at the drive-in". My buddy and I were so naive. I hate to admit it, but I can still remember the movie and what it was about: "Frogs" was the name of it. Youth IS wasted on the young.

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...East and West Blvd don't even change names there, you have to go a block west to Camden for that.

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I would suspect the reason for that, though I am not sure, is that East & West Blvd and Camden might be much older than South, or that South was not the thoroughfare that it is today. We do know that at least from about the locale of the QP theatre, the road to Pineville was once what is now known as the Old Pineville Road. The part of South Blvd from there South did not exist.

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Swampfox, was it the Dilworth? I guess my memory has faded along with that screen :)

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Okay so after a little research today I discovered that its grand opening was on December 21, 1962. It was owned by Howell Theaters and accommodated between 950-1000 cars. The first movie that played there was Girls! Girls! Girls! starring Elvis Presley. There apparently were two signs, the one that is there today, and one that was at the intersection of South and Freeland Lane. They were both constructed in 1969. When it opened, it had the largest screen in North Carolina. It was the second to last one to be closed. It closed in 1980 and the parcel was divided into two pieces. Two thirds of the property went to the Queen Park Business Center and the other one third was the site of the Queen Park multi-plex which opened on December 17th, 1981.

That is all I have really found thus far, but its a little history on something that few people seem to know much about. I have the building permits including sketches of the signs, the layout of the site, and the cost to build. If I can find a scanner in the near future I'll post them if anyone is interested.

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Okay so after a little research today I discovered that its grand opening was on December 21, 1962. It was owned by Howell Theaters and accommodated between 950-1000 cars. The first movie that played there was Girls! Girls! Girls! starring Elvis Presley. There apparently were two signs, the one that is there today, and one that was at the intersection of South and Freeland Lane. They were both constructed in 1969. When it opened, it had the largest screen in North Carolina. It was the second to last one to be closed. It closed in 1980 and the parcel was divided into two pieces. Two thirds of the property went to the Queen Park Business Center and the other one third was the site of the Queen Park multi-plex which opened on December 17th, 1981.

That is all I have really found thus far, but its a little history on something that few people seem to know much about. I have the building permits including sketches of the signs, the layout of the site, and the cost to build. If I can find a scanner in the near future I'll post them if anyone is interested.

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yes, I used microfilm. The librarian in the carolina room found a file on movie theaters in charlotte for me and that had an article with an opening date on it, so I used that to look back through the paper. I am going back later in the week to look at some more microfilm.

I have a copy of the grand opening ad that ran in the Charlotte Observer and the Charlotte News (I think that was the name at least. It was the paper that competed with the Observer until it went under in 1985ish).

I have a sketch of the space needle sign and a sketch of an alternate sign. I'm honestly not sure if the other was a second sign or an alternate design for the main sign.

Also, apparently the screen was destroyed in 1976 due to a windstorm. It was replaced at a cost of 6,000 dollars.

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The alternate sign:

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Opening night newspaper ad:

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Needle sign design:

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Site design:

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New screen building permit:

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Ahh, so my memory wasn't that bad about the closing. I think it was the Fox Drive-In, that also as an advert on that page, that the last one to close. It was located on Old Statesville Rd. near the Metrolina fairgrounds. (between Sunset and present day Harris Blvd)

Some other interesting history there is the advert for The Oriental. Prior to the 1980s there were only 2-3 Chinese restaurants and I think it was the Oriental that was the first to open. This was a place that featured a small pond inside the restaurant with a bridge that you walked over and individual rooms for the diners. (hence tea house). The building does not exist anymore as it was torn down when they turned Independence Blvd into a freeway in the 1990s.

On the Charlotte News, it kinda competed against the Observer. In the days of before TV news, cities of Charlotte's size usually had an morning paper and an afternoon paper that was delivered by dinner time. The Charlotte News was Charlotte's afternoon paper and at one time rivaled the Observer. Eventually the Observer bought the News and continued to operate it for years but the era of afternoon papers slowly died out and as you noted the News shut it's doors in the mid 80s.

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Also, apparently the screen was destroyed in 1976 due to a windstorm. It was replaced at a cost of 6,000 dollars.

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