Located north of Lexington in Rockbridge County in Virginia, Hull's Drive-In Movie Theatre is the first non-profit, community-owned drive-in theater in the United States, and one of the seven drive-in theatres still currently operating in Virginia. Park on one of its 319 spots, grab some popcorn and let the show begin!
A drive-in from the Fifties
Step back in time and feel like you're in a vintage movie, while sitting in your car at Hull's Drive-In Theatre. The theatre has been a part of the Rockbridge area community for more than 50 years and was built by W.C. Atkins in 1950 and operated as the Lee Drive-In on land leased from the Hostetter family. It was owned by Mr. Waddey C. Watkins of Roanoke. In August 1957, Mr. Sebert Hull of Buena Vista assumed ownership. Mr. and Mrs. Hull ran the newly renamed Hull's Drive-In for the next four decades. When Mr. Hull died before the 1998 season, Mrs. Hull sold the business to Mr. W.D. Goad, whose auto body shop is adjacent to the drive-in on Route 11, north of Lexington.
Thousands of movie fans were thrilled when Mr. Goad kept the drive-in going that summer, much the way Mr. Hull had for all the years before. But drastic changes were to come.
Saved by the Hull's Angels
The following season, the high cost of the technical improvements that were needed discouraged Mr. Goad from opening the theater. Back then, most of the drive-ins lack the finances needed to convert to digital projection (around $70,000 per screen). That summer, the big screen remained dark as Mr. Goad searched for a buyer who could fund the necessary upgrades and run the business. Relief came in the form of Hull's Angels, the local non-profit group dedicated to preserving Hull's Drive-In Theatre. Over the dark summer of 1999, the group formed and by that fall, agreed that they themselves should try and purchase the business.
They organized formally as a non-profit corporation, and by spring 2000, signed a lease with an option to buy over the next two years. A $75,000 capital campaign followed, and by July, the Angels had raised enough money from around six hundred donors to make the urgent upgrades and repairs and reopen the theater for the balance of the summer. 2000 was the resurrected Hull's first full summer season.
Great family experience
The drive-in theater is still running and shows current, family-friendly movies every weekend (Friday-Sunday) between March and October.