There’s a good chance one of the oldest drive-ins in the United States will not reopen ever again.
The owners of the Saco Drive-In in Maine announced on Monday that the business, which has been operated under various owners for more than 80 years, has been sold.
In a Facebook post that received more than 1,000 interactions, they said:
"The past 2 years have been a challenge. Owning the property since 1986, selling the drive-in was one of the hardest decisions we had to make. Covid played a part in our decision from having to operate at reduced capacity, inconsistent supply chains, staffing shortages, movie shortages and online streaming to name a few. It has been our pleasure serving you and appreciate everyone who supported us."
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According to Barry Hale Jr., president of Hale Trailer Brake & Wheel, the company is purchasing the drive-in property, and plans to move a Portland location that it has had since 1984 to Saco.
Hale Jr. added that the company recognizes it is taking over a site from a local institution, saying he empathizes with a community experiencing a change that will result in "something people loved and enjoyed for a lot of years," going away.
"It has to be tough to hear," he said, during a Tuesday afternoon interview NECN/NBC 10 Boston, adding that the company had looked into operating the drive-in for one final season.
However, equipment was not available on-site to make that effort feasible.
"There’s an unkept building, there’s not much to operate," he explained.
People in Downtown Saco on Tuesday said they were not necessarily surprised to see the drive-in property sold but were disappointed they would likely never get to see movies there again or at all.
"I feel like there’s too much of Saco, historic Saco, that’s going by the wayside," said Beth Johnston, a longtime city resident and business owner, explaining that she had hope that the drive-in, which first opened in 1939, could have been preserved as a designated historic site.
"There’s too much development, there are too many things in our history that have already been demolished or destroyed, I’m not very happy about it at all," she added.
Julian Vance, who only moved to the city last summer, said he had not visited the drive-in yet but had hoped to before hearing the theater was shutting down for good.
"The news hits me because I always thought it’d be the perfect place to take a date, the perfect place to hang out at nights in summer," he explained.
As for when the remaining structures at the drive-in site come down, Hale Jr. said that timeline has not yet been determined but the sale of the property has closed.
"We hope to be good neighbors and stewards of business in the area and provide some jobs," he said.
NECN/NBC 10 Boston had tried to reach management at the Saco Drive-In via phone and e-mail but our attempts on Tuesday were not immediately successful.