Lamar Barco Drive-In Theater

Published 07/25 2014 06:35PM

Updated 07/25 2014 07:23PM

LAMAR, MO.--- The Barco Drive-In Theater in Lamar was built in the summer of 1949. 

"Butler Phelps was contacted by AJ Simmons who was the original owner of the plaza," said Scott Kelley, Barco and Plaza Theater Manager. 

Both men created and designed the screen that still stands at the drive-in today. It was Phelps who would carry on the legacy.

"He was here when it opened until he passed away in 2008," said Kelley. 

Phelps designed the screen tower so durable, it wouldn't fall apart no matter how old it got.

"It's built to withstand the wind pressure. It's got huge concrete blocks down in the ground and their tied to steel line girders that keep it from swaying back and forth in the wind," he said.

Keeping a classic theater up-to-date with today's technology isn't easy. Film studios are no longer using 35 millimeter film, which are what all theaters used before digital came along. 

"Brand new, they're over $70 to $80,000. This one here that we put in, it was a used refurbished model and it cost over $48,000," he said. 

The cost of keeping this old-fashion entertainment performing like the new is the cause of many closed drive-ins. But this one hasn't stopped premiering summer films since the day it opened, and sometimes it's even open until late October. 

"I think it's the community support and the town's love for the theater. I mean, it's the place to go on the weekends," said Kelley. 

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