Duwamish Drive-In

11200 Tukwila International Boulevard,
Seattle, WA 98168

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Duwamish Drive-In

The Duwamish Drive-In was located next to the Duwamish River in Seattle Washington. It opened May 11, 1948 with Ronald Reagan in “The Voice of the Turtle”. It had a capacity for 600 cars. It closed around 1979. The property is now used as office space for Boeing.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

R Norenberg
R Norenberg on June 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

The duwamish drive in was one of the first of the United Theatre drive in chains. It was also the first drive in that United closed. It was closed because it was on leased land, and the land owners wanted to sell it for more than the theater chain thought it was worth. However some of the speaker poles survive today, as they were moved to the Valley drive in and converted to antenna clips for the Cine-fi system, when the Valley 3 became the Valley 6. I the Duwamish drive in closed in 1978 or 79.

sunflower on April 25, 2017 at 11:36 am

@paghat I’m trying to do research on this drive-in, and I can’t seem to find much information anywhere…how do you know so much about it? I would love to hear what you know about it, or if you know anywhere I could find more information that would be incredibly helpful.

Seattleprojectionist on April 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I can a small amount of information. The opening projectionist in 1948 was Mr. Ashley (Ash) Bridgham. The closing projectionist in 1979 was the same Ashley Bridgham. Ash worked other theaters in the area between these dates but he did both open and close this drive in. Prior to the Duwamish, Ash had worked at the Roxy in Renton. He started his career in the late 1920’s. He retired along with the theater in 1979 and passed away about 1984 or so. Ash told me that due to the swampy wetland to the north of the site, mosquitos were a bit of an issue at this theater. The theater was never automated and remained a manual booth to it’s closing day. It had Brenkert BX-80 projectors and RCA soundheads. It is possible I can find some more information in the files of the old projectionists union local 154 in Seattle. I am an officer of IA local 15 that now represents the few remaining Union projectionists in Seattle.

sunflower on April 26, 2017 at 8:51 am

@seattleprojectionish Wow, thank you so much for your information. It’s firsthand accounts like this that I am really looking for. Would you be willing to get in touch and have a conversation about the Theater? Also, I looked into IA local 15. Super cool that you’re a part of it. Are the files you speak of available to the public, say, a curious researcher?

sunflower on April 26, 2017 at 8:53 am

Do you know if this theater had any correlation to the Duwamish Tribe?

R Norenberg
R Norenberg on July 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

@sunflower No the theatre had no relation to the Duwamish tribe. This Theatre was owned by United Theatres which was a sister company to Pacific Theatres of California owned by the Foreman Family. United Theatres typically named their drive ins after the local area. Kenmore drive in was in Kenmore, Aurora was in aurora ect. The Duwamish was along the Duwamish river so I suspect that it was named after the river. Hopefully that helps.

davidcoppock on July 25, 2017 at 2:19 am

I think the river was named after the the Duwamish tribe(the Duwamish River is listed on Wikpedia).

Seattleprojectionist on August 25, 2017 at 6:43 pm

Sunflower: Much of my information came from Thomas Watters, Jr the Business Agent for IATSE Projectionists Local 154 for more than 30 years. Tommy passed away last Summer. He was also the Secretary for IATSE District One for many years and wrote a column in the IATSE District One Bulletin. All of these are available free online at: http://www.districtone.com/index.php. Click on the “History” Tab, you will find information on theaters in the Pacific Northwest going back as far as 1893. There do exist in the Offices of IATSE Local 15 in Seattle the minutes of IA Local 154 Projectionist Union meetings going back as far as 1908 when the Local was formed. Local 154 merged with Local 15 in 1999. One would have to make a request to look at the books. The books from the distant past that do not have any information concerning anyone still around might not be too much of an issue. Recent minutes are regarded as confidential information, available only to members.

davidcoppock on November 3, 2018 at 3:20 am

Opened with a cartoon(not named), news, a short film(March of time), and “The voice of the turtle”.

R Norenberg
R Norenberg on July 5, 2021 at 3:12 pm

I’ve thought about this off and on though out the past few years. I’m not sure that the closure date listed for this theatre is correct. I think it was closed in 78 or 79. I think this because I former maintenance manager for United Theatres told me that they hauled speaker posts from this drive in to the Valley when it went from 3 screens to 6, and most of that was done over the winter of 79 / 80 with the Valley running 6 screens in the spring of 80. He also stated that the Duwamish was the first drive in that United closed.

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