Ben Hur Drive-In

2310 Indianapolis Road,
Crawfordsville, IN 47933

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Ben Hur Drive-In

Named for the title character of Crawfordsville native Lew Wallace’s famed 1880 novel, the Ben Hur Drive-In opened on May 20, 1949 with Errol Flynn in “Silver River” and could initially accommodate 500-cars (later increased to 700-cars). It was located on Indianapolis Road at Main Street (Route 136). This single-screen drive-in closed in the mid-1990’s and was torn down in 1997.

Contributed by Bryan

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 26, 2005 at 12:38 am

I’m trying to compile a list of movie theatres that were actually named after real movies. So far I have this “Ben-Hur Drive-In,” “Accattone” in Paris after the Pasolini film, a “Cinema Paradiso” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, “Smultronst√ɬ§llet” (Wild Strawberries) in Stockholm, “New Merry Widow Theatre” in St. Louis (may be named after the operetta), “Rear Window” (a series at various Boston locations,) “Grand Illusion Cinema” in Seattle. Any others?

dallasmovietheaters on September 12, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Opened in 1949 by Bert Rayburn.

davidcoppock on February 22, 2018 at 3:42 am

There is also a Cinema Paradiso in Northbridge, Western Australia, Australia.

davidcoppock on February 22, 2018 at 3:50 am

Did this drive-in ever screen the movie Ben Hur?

davidcoppock on February 22, 2018 at 6:11 am

There was a Ben Hur Cinema(in London, England), and Cinema Italia(Chicago, Illiinois) also called Ben Hur Theatre(or Cinema?)!

davidcoppock on February 22, 2018 at 6:18 am

There was a My fair Lady Theatre in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, and Village East End 1-3, renamed My Fair Lady, when it had the melbourne premiere or the film.

Eastwood on June 26, 2021 at 6:04 pm

Crawfordsville (Indiana) Journal-Review: May 19, 1949.


After many weeks of preparation, the Ben Hur drive-in theater, a half mile east of the city on State Road 34, will be opened Friday night. (Ed. note: Old name for SR136.) “Silver River” will be the first movie screened, with the presentation to start at 8:00 p.m. (CDT). Two shows are planned each night. Work on the new drive-in theater has been pushed almost continuously in recent weeks as they sought to open at the earliest possible date. The owners are Bert Rayburn, Ralph Roberts and Pete Deckard, of this city, and F. I. Mitchell, of Veedersburg. The new theater has a capacity of 500 automobiles. Each car will have an individual speaker of the latest design, with individual volume control. Speakers posts will be illuminated and will bear ramp and position numbers. The latest of sound and projection equipment has been installed so that the audiences will be able to enjoy clear pictures without sound distortion. Ramps have been surfaced with crushed limestone to eliminate dust and mud. Drainage has been planned so that the heaviest downpour will not bother the parked cars nor create the danger of being stuck in the mud. Entrances from the highways are of concrete and lead to crushed stone drives designed to eliminate hazards of leaving main lines of traffic. The screen tower is constructed of concrete blocks. It is 50 feet high and 50 feet wide, and is covered with a special white paint which gives added brilliance to the pictures. The projected picture will be approximately 32 x 40 feet and will be clearly visible from all parts of the theater. A modern concession and restroom building has been constructed in the center of the lot. It is of concrete block construction and meets all the requirements of the State Board of Health, according to the management. Public telephone service will be maintained at the theater at all times. It was pointed out that anyone can enter or leave the theater at any time he desires without interfering with his neighbor. The general contract for the Ben Hur theater was held by the Mitchell Construction company of Veedersburg. The Mitchell firm has built a number of other drive-in theaters and has contracts for others to be built in the near future.

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