Super Chief Drive-In
11901 Livingston Rd., Fort Washington, Md.
capacity: 642 cars
years of operation: 1953-84
currently: fringe parking area for bus and carpool commuters
Southern Prince George's County underwent a
veritable explosion of new drive-in openings in the summer months of 1953;
the Super Chief, opened on June 7 by the local Louis Bernheimer circuit, was
the first of four that debuted between June and August, including the Hillside,
the Ranch and the ABC, which was built just a couple of miles up the road.
In 1964, the Wineland circuit, owners of the ABC, bought the Super Chief
to eliminate the competition. The original long entranceway off Livingston
Road, "straight out of Disney with cute little wagon wheels lining it and
clever lighting" as described by the Washington Post
in 1977, was obliterated by the Old Fort Foote Shopping Center around 1980,
and a new one was built off adjoining Swan Creek Road.
"I worked at the Super Chief for two years from 1954 to 1956 while attending high school. I have fond memories of those years and the people that I worked with including a handful of Air Force members working part time. I mostly worked in the snack bar but also was an usher from time to time walking the ramps. The manager of the snack bar was Floyd Azbell and the overall manager of the theater (owner?) at that time was Mr. Ward; I have forgotten his first name. There were times when we had over 600 cars (e.g. for Dragnet). Joe xxxxxx was the projectionist and it was quite exciting when he would forget to do a camera change resulting in a bright blank screen and hundreds of horns honking. Break time was an unbelievable experience from the working side of the snack bar. But it was a wonderful time of fun. Folk would arrive an hour before the start of the movie and just enjoy the cool of the evening listening to the pop songs of the day coming from the four or five inch speakers hanging on their doors. The sound and the picture may not have been high definition but the experience certainly was." -- "satcom"
Click here to see a 1985 USGS map of the Super Chief Drive-In
and surrounding area (note: the data used were collected before the shopping
center was built).
Click here to see a 1988 aerial photo of the closed drive-in.
The Super Chief marquee, as depicted in a 1954 trade-magazine ad.
The snack bar of the closed drive-in in 1987 (Southwestern-style interior not shown).
From happier times, namely 1977: a 9-year-old Alan Beauvais in his hometown drive-in. Thanks to him for the above two photos.
Another view of the snack bar. Shown in the background are commuters' cars occupying the "park and ride" section of the lot, as it was then.
Above two photos taken 1988 by Greg Laxton.
Got some additional information, or some pictures
or stories about this drive-in
you'd like to share? Email me -- thanks!