Archive for the ‘Showcase Cinema’ Category

Roadkill – The Abandoned Sutton Drive-In

Posted: April 21, 2021 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned new england, Abandoned New Hampshire, Abandoned New York, Abandoned Places, Abandoned Restaurant, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Road, Abandoned Stores, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Vermont, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Massachusetts, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, New Hampshire, New York, photography, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Searching, Showcase Cinema, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Vermont, writing
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Roadkill

The Abandoned Sutton Drive-In

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

This is an ugly place. So this will be an ugly piece. You have been warned. I’ve run over three squirrels in my life. A lot of people don’t believe me. But it’s true. It’s something I’ll never forget. I remember each one. I ran over a turtle once, but he was fine. I was seventeen years old. It was in my first car, an old Dodge Neon I bought for four thousand dollars in cash I made washing dishes and refereeing paintball. I got out my shitty old car thinking I had hurt the poor little bugger, but he was just hunkered down in his shell. Staring back at me. Probably quite cross with the whole situation. So I just picked him up and moved him out of the road. I’m kind of foolish in that way, I will do whatever I can to avoid hitting an animal. I’d like to think that most of us do. But sometimes, it’s simply unavoidable. Things happen. Innocence is lost. Life is extinguished. A once wild and fleeting flame is snuffed out by the unyielding juggernaut of man’s world. I hate driving by them. Cold. Lifeless. Hurt. Their faces usually frozen in a sharp sense of shock and sorrow. Whenever I pass something like this, I can’t help but look away. Life is a cruel road. Some get lucky like that brave little turtle. Others, not so much.

And so, allow me to introduce this month’s subject: the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. Originally named the Sutton Motor Inn, most in our community have just come to call it the latter. This is in fact not our first abandoned drive-in movie theater. And I’m sure that it won’t be our last. You see, these places were a big fad in a passed life. And Sutton Drive-In was no exception. It was first opened in 1947, earlier than most drive-in movie theaters in the area. But still, this was right at the peak of their rise to dominance. Plus, this place was located in the ideal location of the Providence-Worcester Turnpike. This busy highway was and still is the main route between Worcester, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Many businesses have come and gone from this hot-spot over the years. The drive-in theater remained on top for quite awhile. But with only one screen, this old heavy hitter simply could not keep up with the times. After playing many blockbusters on her screen, the Sutton Drive-In was eventually forced to close its doors for good in 1996. Though ownership has been up for grabs ever since, the old theater has been left rotting and abandoned ever since.

As I said in our last piece, we are going to try exploring as many places outside of Connecticut as possible this year. Now that the vaccine is finally making a difference, we plan on taking full advantage of venturing to as many other states as possible. Slowly, and safely, of course. So we decided that now was the perfect time to pay a visit to the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. After some rather bizarre weather this past week, including some snow, we finally found some decent weather on a late April Sunday. It was quiet. The sun was shining brightly. And there was a slight breeze in the air. The one thing holding me back from exploring this place before was it’s location. There is no other way to get into it without going through the main gate. Being on such a busy road, there are no side trails or anything to help with exploration. The abandoned theater is just sitting there alongside the busy interstate turnpike. Many other rural and big businesses are neighbors, making this place really stick out. It felt rather weird, but we just pulled up to the main gate. Beneath the old marquee. You really feel like you’re doing something wrong, but nobody else seems to care. There weren’t any NO TRESPASSING signs or anything of the sort at the front.

The main gate is made of ornate stone and rotting wood. Even in its current state of decay, it it quite grand. The marquee itself still beckons all visitors to it, even with it’s fading light. Wires and other junk hang from its ceiling. The sole movie screen looms out of the distance like a colossal monolith. An old sign still stands by the gate, but the only word left standing is “APPROXIMATELY.” I wonder what it once said. Walking down the main road takes you to the ticket booth. It is an A-frame type structure covered in colorful paint. But beware. It is full of bees. They are easily startled. They weren’t as bad as the spider crickets of the Clausland Mountain Tunnels. But still, not fun. A few steps away stands the great grey screen. Panels are missing. Graffiti is rampant. On the side of the screen is the old access door. The frame of the screen appears to be slowly collapsing. There is an even an old ladder leading to the top, though I dare not climb it. Outside, the old road is cracked into a jagged jigsaw puzzle of earth and pavement. Ghostly critters scurry amongst the underbrush. A short walk down the vacant lot is the projection house/snack bar. It is absolutely gutted on the inside. Each room is coated in graffiti and rampant with liter. Everything just felt old, broken, and lost. And though there wasn’t too much to see, this place certainly leaves an impression.

I honestly wouldn’t recommend a visit to the abandoned Sutton Drive-In. It’s just not worth it. It’s one we’ve had on our list for awhile, and it certainly is unique. But in a very dark sort of way. Though there was not a single NO TRESPASSING/KEEP OUT sign at the main gate, this place just felt rather off. I really didn’t like how to close to the main road it was. I prefer doing my exploring deep in the woods or the darkness of the underworld. Anywhere away from prying eyes. The air here is putrid with the stench of car exhaust, old cigarettes, and rotting wood. The ground is coarse with cracked pavement and glittering gravel. And while most abandoned places are eerily quiet, this one is filled with a frenzied chorus of noise. The neighboring highway runs wild and busy. Cars from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and wherever else cruise back and forth. Day in and day out. Chasing that American Dream. While the abandoned Drive-In sits rotting along the side of the road. Like an animal that’s been hit by a car. Forever frozen in a state of terror and sadness. It’s future just as grim as it’s fading screen. Dozens pass by it everyday. Perhaps some notice. Perhaps some still wish there had been something they could’ve done to help. Most just look away.

Finish Your Popcorn – The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Posted: October 27, 2016 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Ghosts, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Mansfield, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Showcase Cinema, Stories, Theater, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Finish Your Popcorn

The Abandoned Willimantic Movieplex

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Cinema should make you forget that you are sitting in a theater.” -Roman Polanski

We have known the bustling town of Willimantic for many years now. When we were both in college, the town was like a second home to us. We did four years of university here; going to classes by day and enjoying the festivities of the town by night. Willimantic has always been a place full of life and light. It features an old school main street, many thriving businesses, and a rich local culture. Notable landmarks such as the Frog Bridge, Eastern Connecticut State University, and the Willimantic Brewing Company make it a surefire place to visit. But there is one place here that sticks out from the vibrant town around it. And that is the now defunct Willimantic Movieplex. Though it was once a staple of the local community, it is now an eyesore and a shadow of its former self. Today, it is simply used as a municipal parking lot for the local businesses. Sitting on a prime piece of real estate, the abandoned Willimantic Movieplex has had quite a history. But regrettably, its past is much more rich than its future.

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The Willimantic Movieplex was first opened during the heyday of the local community. Located right at the cross roads of both the historic Main Street and the nearby Route 66, the theater was in a prime position in downtown Willimantic. With no other movie theaters in the general area, it was very successful during its initial run. But as we all know, times change. And the movie industry is about as predictable as the weather. During the late 90’s/early 2000’s, attendance began to wane. Competition also sprouted up a few miles away with the new Mansfield Movieplex. Over the next few years, the ownership of the theater bounced back and forth like a game of hot potato. It closed and re-opened several times during this period, as multiple different owners tried to save the failing theater. Its final owners made a few minor renovations during 2004 in an attempt to recapture business. But it was never enough. The Willimantic Movieplex closed its doors for good in 2006. It has remained abandoned ever since.

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I honestly wish I could tell you there was more to see here. But sadly, there isn’t. Due to increasingly bad vandal activity and a large local homeless population, the doors to this place were completely sealed off. A large barrier blocks the front, which once featured two doorways and a small ticket window. Around the sides of the theater, all six of the emergency exit doors have been bolted shut. The paint on the walls is pealing off in droves. Vicious and nasty graffiti coats the exteriors. Discarded clothing, shopping carts, and other various pieces of trash are strewn about the ground. The once well groomed weeds and grass now grow wild and restless. But the theater itself sits quietly, waiting for the next entrepreneur to open her doors again and try to bring it back it life. But sadly, as each days passes, that seems to be less and less likely of ever happening. For the Willimantic Movieplex, it seems that the show is over. The tickets were purchased. The crowds filed in. The previews have played. And the movie has now ended. Roll credits. Finish your popcorn.

Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” – Jean-Luc Godard

Turn the Corner — The Ruins of Manchester Drive-In

Posted: May 27, 2015 by Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cinema, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned new england, Abandoned Theaters, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Automobiles, Bolton, Broken, Cinema, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, for sale, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Haunting, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, lost, Manchester, Manchester CT, Movies, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, Showcase Cinema, State Parks, Stories, Theater, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Turn the Corner

The Ruins of Manchester Drive-In

Written by: Sean L.

Photography by: Amanda H.

Movies. Popcorn. Soda Pop. Greased back hair. Your best gal in the backseat of your Chevy. Just another Saturday night. There was a time. Most of us here are a little too young to remember these days. But back in the late nineteen fifties and early sixties, the drive-in movie theater became a bit of a phenomenon here in the US. There were at one time over four thousand drive-in movie theaters all across the country, mostly located in the rural sections. They were the place to be come Saturday night, not just for movies but for a chance to show off your ride. But for the old Manchester Drive-In, all of that is gone. Opened in the early 1950’s, the Manchester Drive-In was one of many drive-in theaters to pop up in Connecticut during this time period. As opposed to the drive-in theaters of today, Manchester had only one screen. It could hold over five hundred cars per showing. But over the years, the excitement and the wonder of drive-in movie theaters began to wane. Most of the theaters across the state began to steadily close their doors, including the Manchester Drive-In.

Unfortunately, the theater went out of business in the early 1980’s where it sat empty and abandoned for almost twenty years. It was finally purchased locally in 2006 to become a park along the Hop River in Bolton, Connecticut. Today, the former drive-in theater that once held over five hundred eager movie goers is now nothing more than a ruin. The pavement of the entrance way is cracked and crumbling. The old sign has become completely engulfed by wines and weeds. The lot itself has become completely impassable due to massive amounts of brush and vegetation. A few old speakers still stand along the outskirts. There is a pile of burned wreckage in the back that was once the theater’s concession stand. But most haunting of all, the one screen itself still stands. Though it is now a skeleton, it is hard to believe that this decrepit structure once played some of the most classic and timeless blockbusters of our time. It casts a shadow over its former glory. But if you look closely just enough, you can still see what this place was once like way back in the summer of 1962.

“Someone wants me. Someone roaming the streets, wants ME… Will you turn the corner?”

American Graffiti

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When the Lights Go Out

~Experiencing the Abandoned Showcase Cinema~

By: Sean and Amanda

Movie theaters, we’ve all seen them. We’ve all driven to the crowded theater on a Friday night. We’ve all stood in line for overpriced popcorn. We’ve all felt the anticipation of the next big flick when the lights of the theater go out. But few of us have seen what becomes of these places when we’ve gone. There are no more crowds. There are no more lines. And the flick never comes on. There is only darkness. We have explored many different types of abandoned places, but few have been as haunting and as mesmerizing as an abandoned movie theater. Unlike the many abandoned hospitals and businesses we’ve explored, movie theaters were once a place of joy. They are not victims of dark pasts or controversy. They are merely sad places that couldn’t keep up with the ever changing movie market, and for that they were left behind. Forgotten. We were able to visit one such place.

Based in New England, the Showcase Cinemas franchise is owned by the larger parent company of National Amusements which owns thousands of movie theaters all over the world. The Showcase Cinemas branch is mostly exclusive to the New England area, with a few theaters in the United Kingdom and other countries. Currently, there are about thirty Showcase Cinema theaters in the US, including those in New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. Around the time of 2008, theaters began to close across the state of Connecticut. Due to reasons such as close proximity to other theaters, higher ticket prices, and the continuing development of movie technology, these theaters were deemed no longer “financially viable.” About half dozen Showcase Cinema theaters in Connecticut were closed over the next few years. They now sit empty.

Having seen several of these abandoned theaters in our travels, we decided to pay a visit to the nearest one. Since they were once active, finding these abandoned theaters is not too difficult. A Google search and MapQuest were all we needed to find all of the information we needed for our investigation. Interestingly enough, these theaters are not commonly explored by other urban explorers. So we did not have much of any information on what we could expect to find at the theater. We were flying in blind. We did not know what kind of security was in place, what kind of shape the building was in, or what the legal status was of being there. It certainly promised to be one of our more unique investigations to date.

We made a trek to the abandoned Showcase Cinema theater on a beautiful October afternoon. It wasn’t too much of a drive, and the theater stood right beside the highway. Facing this highway stood the old marquee, though now all it says is “CLOSED.” It was indeed a haunting site, especially with the golden afternoon sunlight baring against the theater’s decaying walls. The theater unfortunately shared a parking lot with a grocery store, so we were forced to be discrete in our investigation. We chose to scout out the property in our car first. No security forces were spotted, though several security cameras were in operation along the building’s main entrance. Other than on the building itself, there were not any “No Trespassing” signs visible on the property. The lot appeared to be taken care of though, as there were no signs of litter or graffiti anywhere.

When we first drove in, we got an excellent view of the theater. The “Showcase Cinemas” sign still greets visitors, though now it is slowly graying. The parking lot is in poor shape. Nature has begun to reclaim it, as much of the pavement is cracked by furiously growing weeds and vines. The lines for parking spots are slowly fading away. We even found an old stop sign still standing. The building itself is in relatively good shape for an abandoned site. Plants and vines grow heavily along the steps and handicapped ramps of the theater. The red paint of the handrails is slowly chipping away. Big grey splotches of mold coat the cement walls and steps. Even the old front sign is in poor shape. What once welcomed theater goers and listed show times is now a brown illegible marker.

The windows of the front main entrance are completely sealed from the floor to the ceiling, making the theater a near impenetrable fortress. There are also two security cameras guarding this entrance, protecting it from any potential vandals. Though the front entrance is completely sealed off and well-guarded, there are several other entrances to the theater in the form of back and side doors. These were once used as the emergency exits from each individual theater. Inside, the building is completely dark. With the front windows sealed off, not a shred of light makes it inside. Everything from the front ticket windows to the concession stand is cast in complete darkness. While there is no graffiti or liter on the outside of the building, it is prevalent inside. Glass display cases are smashed. There are holes in the walls. Carpets have been shredded. Even a few of the movie screens have been ripped up. Each theater is as quiet and somber as a tomb.

Several of the abandoned theaters in Connecticut have been demolished and their lots are being used for new and better purposes. But a good majority of these abandoned theaters still stand, scattered across the state. Much like most abandoned places, there are always talks of what to do with these sad places. But few things ever come to fruition. Though certainly not haunted, visiting this theater was haunting. Every little emotion that audiences once felt still echoes through the empty halls. Whether it was the laughs of a comedy, the tears of a drama, or the cries of a horror movie, these feelings still haunt each theater. Hundreds of empty seats sit staring at an empty and destroyed screen. But sadly, the lights went out in this theater a long time ago. The Showcase Cinema sits quietly in the dark, still waiting for the next movie to start.

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