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Carlisle Drive-In - Living History

This section is a free form way to capture the story behind the drive-in and people associated with it. Please add to it by logging in and editing this wiki page.


The Carlisle Drive-In opened in 1949. The theater was owned and operated by James Cardasis. The drive-in was built for a cost of $200,000 and covered 62 acres. It was the second drive-in built in Lorain County. The Lorain Drive-In, named for the city it was built in, was the first. The cost of admission at the Carlisle was 75 cents when it opened, and kids under 12 got in free. Shirley Lauer, who lived on West Ridge Road just east of the Carlisle, took a job as cashier when the theater opened and worked there until 1956.


In 1973, James Cardasis died, and John Tender took over ownership and operations of the Carlisle. James Cardasis was Tender's brother-in-law. Tender was also the owner of the Tivoli Theater, and indoor located in downtown Lorain.


In 1981, the Carlisle added FM Radio Sound. In the spring of 1981, a car that was entering the drive-in got hit from behind by a truck, and the car caught on fire in the theater's driveway. A guy that was hiding in trunk in order to avoid the admission cost got killed in the fire. Some people believed that this hurt the Carlisle's business because business started to drop off that same year. Competition from Cable TV and VCR video rentals were the main reasons given by the owner for the drop off in business.

Final Season and Closing

In 1984, the Carlisle had their final season. It was in bad shape. The weeds were overgrown in the lot, and only one half of the marquee was lit up. Their final night ever was Sunday, October 28th, 1984.


In the fall of 1988, a long message appeared on the marquee that was hard to make out.

Torn Down

Around late-May of 1989, the drive-ins remaining equipment was auctioned off. In the summer of 1989, it was torn down. This included the giant screen tower with its wooden frame, the marquee, and building. Just the light pole at the back of the lot remained and was still there 20 years later.


"Cable, VCRs sound death-knell for the Carlisle" by Amy Richards from The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, June 1st, 1985

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