Route 4 Drive-In

IL-4 and Harrison Avenue,
Thayer, IL 62615

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Route 4 Drive-In

The Route 4 Drive-In was at the northwest side of Illinois Highway 4 (the former US 66) at its intersection with Harrison Avenue north of Thayer. A 1971 aerial photo shows ramps pointing to a screen that would have faced east-northeast, but no evidence of the screen itself.

It was opened around July 1950. The Motion Picture Almanac listed it in its 1951-66 editions, capacity 300, owner W. F. Swift. It was gone by the 1969 MPA.

The 1952-56 Theatre Catalog listed the Route 4 (eventually “Route 54 (Formerly Route 4)”) on Route 4, owner William Swift, capacity 300 cars and 100 seats.

Despite that Theatre Catalog note, the name may have never changed. A July 13, 1958 note in the Daily Illinois State Journal mentioned the tragedy of a girl who was killed “when she ran across Route 4 from the driveway of the Route 4 Drive-In Theater”. It was still open in 1962.

Contributed by Michael Kilgore

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

jwmovies on March 27, 2019 at 7:02 am

A more accurate address for this theater is now 17615 IL-4, Auburn, IL 62615. This points directly to the house on the entrance road.

Please update.

MichaelKilgore on June 9, 2019 at 4:43 am

From the June 10, 1950 issue of BoxOffice:

THAYER, ILL. – While the spring rains have delayed construction of the 300-car drive-in that W. E. Swift, owner of the Gaiety Theatre, Virden, Ill., is building on Route 4 north of here, Swift hopes to have the project ready for opening in the next week or so.

The July 15, 1950 issue had more of the same. “Opening of W. F. Smith’s (sic) new drive-in on Route 4 … has been delayed by frequent rains… The airer, to be known as the Route 4 Drive-In, will accommodate 300 cars.”

moviebuff82 on June 9, 2019 at 2:42 pm

not to be confused with another Route 4 drive-in in Paramus, N.J.

MichaelKilgore on June 15, 2020 at 8:03 pm

It lasted through at least 1962. Motion Picture Exhibitor, Oct. 24, 1962: “The Route 4 Drive-In, Thayer, Ill., closed (for the season) Sept. 30. It is owned by Bill Smith.”

MichaelKilgore on June 18, 2021 at 7:51 pm

Springfield’s Daily Illinois State Journal ran a “Now Open” ad for the Route 4 (“North Edge of Thayer”) on June 28, 1950.

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