1949: Drive-In Theater To Open Tonight

The new “Ranch” drive-in theater, located 1 mile west of Iowa State College at the Boone-Story county lines on U. S. Highway 30, will open tonight at 6:30.

The mayors of the two largest towns in this trade territory, Frank Ganoe of Boone and W. Allen of Ames, will officiate at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the entrance to the “Ranch” tonight at 6:45.

The new out-door theater will [accommodate] 750 cars and will be equipped with all the latest projection and sound equipment. The scientifically constructed ramps at the “Ranch” will insure an unobstructed view of the huge screen from any seat in the car. An individual in-car speaker is provided for each car. The occupants can regulate the volume to their own personal desire.

A large concession stand, located in the center of ramp No. 4, will dispense hot and cold drinks, popcorn, sandwiches, candy, and even bottle warmers for the mother who brings her new baby.

Two performances will be given nightly, one at dusk, and the second at 10 p.m.

17 Jul 1949

The Ranch Drive-In opened in summer 1949, the fifth theater in the Ames area  — at the time it was far from being in the Ames city limits — and the only drive-in theater Ames ever had. It was owned by the Ames Theatre Company, which owned all theaters in town, and operated for 46 years. As the city continued to grow west, land prices increased, making the land more valuable than the business. It closed after the 1996 season, though that wasn’t official until months later, and the theater operator, now Central States, had recently opened a new five-screen movie theater at North Grand Mall.

The advertisements in the Daily leading up to the Ranch’s opening:

30 Jun 1949

The first teaser ad for the drive-in theater. Besides the movies and stars, the theater promotes “intimate privacy” and “family care” — the family care being a playground.

2 Jul 1949
17 Jul 1949

This ad announcing its opening ran the same day as the story above. And though I really like Glenn Ford, The Return of October is nothing memorable.

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