The Magic and Allure of Lynn Auto Theatre
Come as you are in the family car!
That’s the motto of Lynn Auto Theatre, where you can drive in to watch a family movie any evening after dark during the summer months, or on weekends in the spring. Many remember going to a drive-in movie, walking to the concession stand for snacks, and hanging the speaker on your car window.
You can still do this at Lynn’s near Strasburg. Here you’ll find a piece of Tuscarawas County history – the oldest drive-in theater in Ohio, and the second oldest continually operating in the world. When it opened its doors in 1937, it was called Boyers Auto Theatre.
Boyers was more than a drive-in movie. They had a train ride, miniature golf, an arcade, restaurant and gasoline station. This family entertainment complex was one of four drive-ins built before WWII.
Why would it be called Lynn Auto Theatre today? When Ward Franklin and Ray McComb purchased the drive-in, they named is after McComb’s daughter, Judy Lynn.
Then the Reding family entered the scene. Dick Reding always had a passion for movies. During the time of silent movies, he played the records for the musical accompaniment that went along with the films when a live musician was not available. In 1957, Dick managed a string of theaters in the Canton area, but drive-ins became very popular about then, so he decided to purchase Lynn’s.
Since that time, it has been passed down through the same family for 59 years from grandpa to son, and now run by the grandsons, Rich and Jamie Reding. This family affair continues at the ticket booth, where Rich’s wife, Darla, with cat, Gizmo, welcomes guests. Family members and their friends also manage the concession stand where prices are reasonable. Footlong coneys with cheese, and popcorn are their most popular items.
Rich reminisced that grandpa continued his love for the drive-in even after he and his wife moved to an assisted living facility. He recalled grandpa looking out the window at a large field and remarking, “That would be a nice place to build a drive-in.” Love of theater ran in his blood.
In the early days of the drive-in, sound for the movies came through speakers under the screen. These “Boom Speakers” could be heard over the sound of a roaring train. Next came the speakers to hang on the window of your car. Today you have a choice, you can still listen through the old speaker, or you can turn to a designated FM station on your radio dial to hear the movie in stereo sound.
Back in 1967, a second screen was added so patrons had a bigger choice of movies. Often during a summer weekend, both screens will be sold out and cars turned away. Space is limited to 390 vehicles.
One of the big recent changes came about because of new technology. 33 mm films are no longer being made by the movie industry, so it was necessary to switch to a digital projector, which was very expensive costing $75,000. But it makes for a much clearer picture on the movie screen and fantastic sound.
When driving down SR 250, you can’t miss Lynn Auto Theatre where you see the Mammoth Classic Neon Marquee, which displays the latest family films for summer enjoyment. Admission is very reasonable at $7.00 per adult with $3.00 per child 5-11. Under 5 are free.
In Rich’s opinion, success of the theater depends on two major factors: nice weather and Hollywood producing movies that everyone wants to see. With the new digital projectors, ‘prom posals’ and even wedding proposals are popular items to show on the screen.
Right now the theater is only open on the weekends, but what a great trip it would be to revisit the drive-in, get some popcorn from the concession stand, and relax in the comfort of your car while seeing a double feature. You even have a choice of two different double features happening on the same evening.
Lynn Auto Theatre is a great place to spend an evening, and see the stars under the stars.
Lynn Auto Theatre has easy access just north of Strasburg at 9735 SR 250, where State Route 250 and 21 split.