The Kenmore Drive-In Theater opened on May 1, 1953 behind what later became the Kenmore Village shopping center. The theater’s slogan was “See the Stars under the Stars.” The first program was a double-feature starring Gregory Peck and Ann Blyth in The World in His Arms and Joe McCrea appearing in Cattle Drive, both in Technocolor.
The theater featured a giant outdoor movie screen, which lit up the night sky as dusk turned to dark, and a sea of car speakers mounted on short poles. How modern! The theater became a popular destination among young post-war families. Mom and Dad brought their pajama-clad children, treated them to popcorn and soda pop, and then put them to bed in the back seat while enjoying an evening out.
People soon discovered that if you parked in the Northlake Lutheran Church lot on a nearby hillside, you could watch movies free—minus the sound.
Outdoor theaters had peaked by the late-1960s. The drive-in concept gradually gave way to indoor theaters with wide-screen productions and stereophonic sound. The Kenmore theater site was converted in 1978 to a Metro park-and-ride lot and later became the large apartment complex that sits across from City Hall today.
Photo courtesy of the Bothell Citizen