Honeywell Foundation employee, Terry Pence, repairs 13-24 Drive-In’s enormous movie screen.
The inception of the Wabash drive-in was inspired by Hoosier native Truman Rembusch who began construction on the drive in theater in 1949. All materials used in the construction of the theater were purchased locally more than a year prior and were kept in storage until construction began. Construction began on a plot of ground that covered 17 acres. The original facilities included the drive-through ticket booth, the concession stand and a shed housing the kiddie train. Of these original buildings, the ticket booth and concession stand are still being used today.
The theater could accommodate up to 750 cars with the newest state of the art speakers for quality sound and elevated parking for the best possible angle to see the movie out of your windshield. The original screen was one of the largest in its day at 58’ x 44’ and had a projection throw of 397 feet which was the longest in the state at that time.
Interestingly, prior to the drive-in’s opening, a contest was held to see who could come up with a name for the newly established drive-in. Judges announced that the name “13-24 Drive In” had been chosen for the new theater on State Road 13 a short distance north of the intersection with Federal Road 24. The winning Wabash contestant, Mrs. Don Alger was chosen from 235 entries for naming the theater. The newly selected name “13-24 Drive In” would incorporate the outline of the 13 and 24 road signs along the two highways to would be used in ads for the movies – and still are today.
Opening day for the 13-24 Drive In finally arrived on August 23, 1951. Admission was 50 cents for adults and free for kids 12 and under. Local businesses showed their support of the new drive-in with ads in the Wabash Plain Dealer including the Baer Lumber Company, Sears Robuck and Co., Yarnelle Lumber Co., and Wabash Co. Farm Bureau Coop Assn., Inc. The first movie shown at the drive-in was “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” in Technicolor. Today, the local business INGUARD continues local support of the drive-in by reinstating kids 12 and under free admission.
The 13-24 Drive In has been a part of Wabash’s social fabric for 64 years. Purchased in 2011 by longtime supporters of The Honeywell Foundation, two families, Michael and Angie Beauchamp and Parker and Katie Beauchamp, purchased the property with the intent of the Honeywell Foundation operating the facility and receiving all proceeds. In May of that same year, The Honeywell Foundation assumed operations of the historical landmark and continues to manage and operate the theater today.
Operation of the Drive-In provides the Foundation with another means of providing social and recreational opportunities, as stated in its Mission.
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