The Ribault Drive-in Theatre, 1950’s

November 29th, 2016, 9:42H · Topics: Aerials, Business · Print

“The building of a Drive-In Theatre. I guess that’s a thing of the past. It was built in the late 1950’s”  LS

It took a bit of legwork to find any information on the Ribault Drive-In but I finally found one great source. In Aug 11, 1977 Jacksonville Journal Staff Writer Nancy McAlister had the job of reviewing and critiquing the 10 drive-in theaters in Jacksonville, Florida. It was no doubt the highlight of her journalism career. The drive-In theaters in the story were the Blanding, Fox Twin on Normandy Blvd., Lake Forest on Rowe Avenue, Main Street, Midway on Beach Blvd., Pine on Eastport Road, Playtime on Blanding Blvd., Ribault on Soutel Drive, Southside on Philips Highway and the University on University Blvd. North.

The following is the review of the Ribault Drive-In,

Type of Movies: Predominantly R

Admission: $2.00 per person, children under 11 Free.

Playground: Yes.

Concession Stand: Centrally located building with large patio which needs additional lighting. Interior quite small made even worse by the pinball machines that have been squeezed in.

Food: Small selection but reasonably priced. Plain popcorn is 30 cents, buttered is 50 cents. A hot dog is 50 cents, a hamburger 60 cents and drinks are 35 and 50 cents.

Rest Rooms: Among the worst. No toilet paper in stalls and paper all over the floor and in toilets. Dirty.

General Condition: Lighting is poor and better maintenance is needed. Also, during our visit the second movie began and soon after cut off, with a voice coming over the loud speaker telling patrons to proceed to the box office for a refund. No explanation was given.

The theatre is listed as having 1 screen and a 400 car capacity. It was located at 4819 Soutel Drive in Jacksonville.  At some point in the late 1970’s the Ribault Drive-In Theatre closed. It reopened in 1981 showing R rated movies on the weekends but that was short lived. Looking at current photographs of the area the surrounding woods have all been replaced by houses and there has been some commercial building on the drive-in property but you can still see the faint outlines of the parking areas that are now overgrown with trees.

Unrelated but interesting, there was also a legal case involving the City of Jacksonville and drive-in theaters that went before the Supreme Court in the 1970’s. The manager of the University Drive-In was charged with a violation of the city ordinance that banned the showing of movies revealing bare breasts and buttocks in drive-in theaters which can be seen from the street. The manager was charged with showing the movie “Class of ’74” which included pictures of female buttocks and bare breasts. The charge said the anatomical scenes were visible from the Resurrection Catholic Church near the drive-in. Jacksonville’s ordinance was found to be unconstitutional.


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  1. 1 Jan Wike November 29th, 2016 16:37H

    I lived on Soutel Dr. I lived for the weekends to be able to go to this drive-in ! Was such great memories of my youth !!

  2. 2 Christian Mortimer January 16th, 2017 20:44H

    What is the deal with it now? Is it a new business now or is it and abandoned drive in theatre

  3. 3 bob January 23rd, 2017 9:20H

    Christian, There is a school on the Soutel Drive frontage of the property but most of the rest of the Drive-In property is grown in with trees.

  4. 4 Fodette December 5th, 2018 14:30H

    I went and checked it out on google maps, it’s really rather awesome how nature has filled it in, though you can tell it was a drive-in.,-81.7243017,190m/data=!3m1!1e3

  5. 5 kenneth bremer February 5th, 2020 18:15H

    I remember The Ribault drive in, when I was about 5 years old watching the Sci-Fi movie “20 million miles to earth.” About 1958 or 59 when I was 5 years old. I loved it. We saw a lot of movies there. “A fist full of dollars” “The ten commandments” re-released. “The Dirty dozen” and many more. I stopped going there after the 70’s.

  6. 6 Drive-In Dave Lounder March 14th, 2023 4:23H

    Thank you for posting this informative tribute!

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About Photographer Loyd Sandgren

I first met Loyd Sandgren in 1997 as I was putting photo gear back into my car after... Learn More