Sutton Motor-In

Abandoned and for sale for almost 20 years, this drive-in theatre has rot away to almost nothing

About this Property

#Reason for Decay

We’ve driven past this dilapidated theater many times but always on the way north, so, never stopped to take photos. On the way back south it is easy to miss, and once you pass it, it’s gone. Finally, a contributor sent us these photos and many more can be found on Flickr.

Its a spacious lot with room to have held 450 cars (!). The design of the ticket booth is fantastic – a slender A-frame that looks very 1950s. And the letters above the marquee were also fantastic — sleek, machine-age, and modern.

Route 146 is home to another drive-in that is still open — The Rustic. During the low times of the late 60s and early 70s, both of these theaters resorted to showing racy adult-only content to stay in operations. Now, the Rustic enjoys a comeback and is still going. Unfortunately, the Sutton Motor-In did not. It could be that one screen was not enough variety to keep the place afloat during lean times, though it also seems like (from the comments on CinemaTreasures.org) that management and town officials did not get along.

#Current Events

The large stone entrance pilings are still there as well as most of the marquee, but the fantastic letters are long gone. The sign is sagging and broken, while what remains of the projection booth, ticket booth, and screens have been vandalized and severely decayed over the years.

From the comments on CinemaTreasures.org, there are stories about how a small groups of owners wanted to continue to run the motor-in but the town put up roadblocks in the form of expensive police details. To everyone’s detriment, the land is still vacant and unused.

At one point in the late 2000s the asking price for the land was a million and a quarter. The newest land assessment by the town of Sutton puts the taxable value on the property at a little over $500k.

#History

From CinemaTreasures.org, captured October 20, 2020

Originally opened in 1947, the Sutton Motor-In is a drive-in located on the main highway between Worcester, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. It was closed in 1996, and much of the 10-acre property (now for sale) is thickly overgrown with weeds and brush, giving the place a “haunted-drive-in” look.

1 screen, 450 car capacity. Original owner W.P.Bernard,