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Last updated on Tuesday, July 3, 2012
(LINTON) - Paul and Chianna Alsup point to the old Greene County Drive-In on Linton’s east side. The couple plan to lease the facility from owner Ed Guthrie and have plans to show movies and offer other entertainment.
They hope to open for business in late August or September.
Mark Stalcup of the Greene County Daily World reports that if everything goes as planned, the Linton Drive-In could be resurrected and expanded by late August.
If all goes as planned, the movie theatre also could host bands, a rib fest and a permanent carnival on site by late August.
While the deal's still being finalized, Center Point's Paul Allsup has what present property owner Ed Guthrie calls "a gentleman's agreement," adding "I want to see it open up. I'd love to see that happen."
Guthrie won't play any part in the theatre's management, but merely will lease the land to Allsup and his wife, Chianna, the facility's co-owner.
That pact, Paul Allsup said, could lead to $250,000 in improvements, including the installation of three new Jumbotron screens which could highlight musical performances, while doubling as movie screens.
"When we get the acreage we want to try and add an additional three screens for next year," Allsup said.
If plans unfold as proposed, the theatre, as expanded, would become a drive-in multiplex akin to the one presently in Reo, Ind.
"Me and Ed said formally it's mine," Allsup said. "We're just waiting on his attorney to get the paperwork back."
However, the deal's not signed yet, a pact which would offer Allsup a 10-year lease on the property with an option for another decade, potentially broken down into two five-year terms.
"Nothing's signed yet. My lawyers won't be back in town until the 4th" of July, Guthrie said. "We have what I'd call a gentleman's agreement, a handshake."
Allsup, an entrepreneur from Center Point, Ind., now in Nashville, Tenn., said frequent visits to Linton coupled with a childhood love for drive-in theatres inspired him to make the deal.
"I've always wanted to have my own theatre," said the businessman, who tracked down the present property owner through the assessor's office.
"When I was young, my family lived in Indianapolis, and we'd go to the drive-ins on South (Route) 31, along with the Tibbs and the Twin," he said. "The only remaining one now is the Tibbs, but we went to the drive-in every weekend."
Ultimately, the project could bring needed summer jobs for teens to town, as well as other employment.
"It's going to be great for Linton, and there will be heavy job creation," he said, adding about 50 part-time jobs will be created at the amphitheater between security and customer service, including ticket booths and the concession stand.
He plans to potentially begin the hiring process within the next two weeks.
If his plans come through, Allsup will own the oldest drive-in theatre in the state.
The former Greene County Drive-In -- also known as the Linton Drive-In -- was the first of its kind in Indiana.
Opened in 1948, the theater arrived just 15 years after the first American drive-in movie opened in Camden, N.J.
Linton's theatre lasted, albeit with a few brief breaks, for half a century before it closed for good. Charles Cassida owned the theatre for almost all its lifespan, with his son Mike serving as projectionist.
Cassida sold the drive-in to Ed Guthrie just before it closed in 1999.
The refit must work quickly to open by late summer as planned.
The facility needs a refit during the busiest construction season. It's weather-beaten exterior, facing the road, shows signs of aging. Siding's missing from the screen's top, and the storage room inside the screen stands wide open. Inside, the screen needs painting.
The posts which once held speakers and the concession stand where popcorn and frankfurters cooked up nightly are demolished now.
Allsup plans to make the facility redesign reflect a nostalgia for the drive-in's golden era, with neon and potentially even the purchase of a 1957 Chevy.
The site could also boast a permanent carnival and an outdoor amphitheater akin to similar outdoor amphitheaters in Noblesville and Evansville's Medsker Amphitheater.
"He wants something like they had at Deer Creek" -- formerly known as the Verizon Wireless Music Center and now the Klipsch Music Center -- said Guthrie.
Allsup said he plans to hold a contest to name the amphitheater, offering a $500 prize to the winner.
Allsup also plans to rebuild an expanded concession stand featuring "a big arcade, mostly with pinball machines like there was in the 1950s and 60s," adding the concession stand will likely include a full service menu as the older drive-ins once had, featuring about a dozen sandwiches.
The drive-in's planned reopening in late August or early September comes near what will be the facility's planned end of the season in future summers, Allsup said.
Presently, he's negotiating with Sony Pictures, and hopes the first double bill will be "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "Men in Black 3." He plans to show two films each weekend, and may also have a night of classic films each week.
Allsup expects the theatre will stay open from March until October.
He also hopes to close out the shortened season with a major concert and ribfest, and is presently taking credit card orders for the festival. However, details are being finalized.
"Right now I'm trying to put together a weekend event for the first weekend in October," he said, adding that while credit card reservations are being taken, "If it doesn't come off they won't be charged."
A "haunted drive-in" for horror movie buffs is also planned for late October.
"We figured it'd be kind of cool," said Chianna Allsup.
Allsup's also worked as a concert promoter whose Brownsburg-based Unheard Voices Entertainment Enterprises LLC has previously promoted shows by Michael Bolton and Smokey Robinson.
"I'd like to get several Class B national acts in there," Allsup said, naming John Cougar Mellencamp and Bob Seger as two acts he'd love to see perform at the entertainment center as well.
Allsup also has an ownership interest in a minor league basketball team, the American Basketball Association's Nashville Soul.
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