French Village Drive-In

8601 California Drive,
East St. Louis, IL 62202

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: B-A-C Theatres, Plitt Theatres, Publix Theaters Corporation

Previous Names: East St. Louis Drive-In

Nearby Theaters

French Village Drive-In

This was one of the older ozoners in the St. Louis area. It opened in 1942 by Publix Great States Theatres with a capacity of 500 cars. It opened as the East St. Louis Drive-In. Its name was changed to the French Village Drive-In and ownership changed to Bloomer Amusement Co. (BAC) on March 28, 1958.

Beside the architecture of the buildings the screen tower is noted for having a stage and dressing rooms below it. Another feature to the state of drive-ins at the time were the tiered rows where cars pulled up the ramps to park and had to back out to leave.

There was a tunnel running from the front box office to the projection booth and to the back of the theatre. Through the tunnel was run the electrical, water lines and speaker wires.

During its later life it switched to pornographic features until it closed in 1984. It was sitting empty with its large screen and main entrance on St. Clair Avenue in the early-2000’s, but had been demolished by 2007.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

DAL on September 17, 2012 at 9:00 am

This location was a Plitt Theatre in 1976 when I joined the company. It was in the far south end of Ed Konradt’s district, which also included (at that time) the Wildey in Edwardsville, the Grand in Alton, and the Madison and Palace in Peoria. Plitt closed it within a few years; maybe that was when Bloomer took over. Sadly, years after its closure but before its demolition, the body in a murder case was discovered on the grounds.

jwmovies on October 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

To map correctly, enter 8601 California Dr.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on May 7, 2013 at 5:29 am

The St. Clair Ave address was the correct address back in the day, but they made St. Clair Ave a limited access road. So an access road was built so 8601 California Dr. is the correct address now.

Drive-In 54
Drive-In 54 on May 7, 2013 at 5:33 am

More pictures and information HERE

dansdriveintheater on November 5, 2018 at 10:53 am

now all that remains are some of the ramps.

MitchWolf on October 15, 2019 at 5:56 am

Richard Wright, owner of the Lincoln in Belleville, took over the ownership of the French Village in 1989

The X Rated films was played through the winter yrs as well

Looks like a little known motorcycle club built a building on the grounds …NOT A CHURCH

Kris4077 on October 15, 2019 at 10:24 am

@MitchWolf Google maps has it as the Church of the Living God. Unless that’s the name of a Christian motorcycle club. It’s the right location in comparison to Historic Aerials.

Norman Plant
Norman Plant on October 16, 2019 at 2:19 pm

It IS the site of a church. Eyewitness account.

rivest266 on October 27, 2021 at 1:07 pm

Renamed French Village on March 28th, 1958 per the Belleville Daily News

kennerado on August 18, 2022 at 1:36 am

ha, it is a church, the “CMC” on the building stands for “Crossroads Multipurpose Center”.

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