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Shankweiler’s Drive-in Theatre Purchased by New Owners, Grand Reopening in 2023 | WDIY Local News

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The Moving Picture Cinema

America’s oldest operational drive-in theater, located in Lehigh County, is under new management. WDIY’s Sarit Laschinsky has more.

In a recent release, The Moving Picture Cinema – a full-service mobile cinema – announced that it has purchased Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theatre effective Nov. 4.

The company, led by Matthew McClanahan and Lauren McChesney, are the fourth set of owners in the drive-in theater’s 88-year history.

The previous owners, Paul and Susan Geissinger, purchased the drive-in in 1984, put it up for sale in 2015 and relisted it in 2018.

McClanahan previously revived and ran The Mahoning Drive-in Theatre in Lehighton from 2014-2020, according to the release, and has owned and operated The Moving Picture Cinema since 2019.

A post on the company’s Facebook page said it has long been their goal to set up a permanent venue to cultivate creative projects, as well as engage in diverse programming and partnerships across the state.

Shankweiler’s, located in Orefield, was constructed in 1934 by hotel owner Wilson Shankweiler. It is the oldest drive-in theater still in continuous operation in the country, and the second one ever built, following the Camden Drive-In in New Jersey built by Richard Hollingshead in 1933.

The release says Shankweiler’s will resume operations in November and continue with a limited schedule through the winter. A grand reopening will follow in spring 2023.

(Original air-date: 11/7/22)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky is WDIY's Interim News and Public Affairs Director.
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