When you were home reading over Governor Baker’s Phase 1 reopening list you may have been surprised to see drive-in movie theaters listed. Drive-ins! Remember those? Swing sets, cartoon dancing tubs of popcorn telling us to get a snack, two movies, all from the comfort of your car? You might not; there are only two active drive-ins left in Massachusetts, but there was a drive-in in Dorchester for 35 years! That is the subject of this Caught in Dot History Lesson!
The Neponset Drive-In opened on September 14th, 1950! The first movies seen on its big screen were Comanche Territory, a biopic of Jim Bowie starring Maureen O’Hara, and Outside the Wall, a crime thriller! The theater had one screen and the lot could accommodate 1,350 cars.
The Neponset Drive-In was a popular spot for decades but by the 1980s it was losing its luster. To increase revenue the site was also used as the site of a flea market for a while – but by 1985, the whole thing closed down. Eventually, the Commonwealth bought the site and the multi-acre Hallet Street Dump that was next door.
Extensive work was done and on May 1st, 2001, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) opened Pope John Paul II Park. While the playground and the athletic fields are closed right now, as a result of COVID-19, it is the perfect site to take a socially distant walk, a bike ride or to go fly a kite. It is also a great place for bird watching – omething we know Maureen is into right now!