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Author Topic: Heritage Designation for a drive-in?
Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2234
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 02-27-2013 12:47 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I really don't understand the point of this. Here is a short article in today's Melville Advance (our local weekly paper):

Heritage Designation Pursued

Owners of the historical Twilite Drive-In hope to have the Wolseley theatre designated as a Municipal Heritage Property. And they're getting support from the RM of Wolseley that will present a motion next month to pass a bylaw for the designation.

The Twilite was the first drive-in to open in Saskatchewan and is only one of three still operating. Don Zaba's father Stanley opened the business in June 1954 with the first film shown entitled Take Me To Town.

"It's an important part of our community," says RM administrator Rose Zimmer. "It's an important part of our history."

Zaba says technological changes are forcing drive-ins across the province to close unless they make costly conversion to the new digital projection format. And that's expensive - the switch to the digital format costs $35,000 to $85,000. The changeover must happen this year as film distributors will cease the distribution of the old 35 millimeter film prints.

Ok, but I don't see how "heritage designation" is going to help to buy a digital projector for that drive-in. I know that the owner was running a begging campaign last year, stating that if he didn't get enough donations to pay for the digital conversion he wouldn't be opening again in 2013, but this is the first that I've heard about that drive-in since then. Maybe he figures that calling it "heritage" will drive more donations?

For that matter, what's "heritage" about a drive-in? I've never seen the Wolseley drive-in, but as far as I know most drive-ins basically consist of a screen and a shack in a field.

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Donald Brown
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 131
From: Lincoln, DE
Registered: Sep 2009

 - posted 02-27-2013 03:44 PM      Profile for Donald Brown   Email Donald Brown   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
While I am not certain what the historic designation will or will not achieve, the experience of going to a movie theatre is part of our cultural experience as 20th Century Americans. The loss of these cultural icons, whether drive-ins or indoor screens, is the depreciation of our common cultural landscape.
I don't think these exhibitors are "begging" for funds, they merely seek our attention before being condemned to irrelevance unnecessarily. Their loss is ours collectively as a society.

Don Brown

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 02-27-2013 06:53 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I dunno...

Some would argue that "going to the movies" hasn't been what it used to be for nearly a half-century, so we would not preserving what you're describing. Certainly not in the case of a drive-in that's under-patronized.

If the experience really has become irrelevant -- or becomes irrelevant at some future point -- perhaps it would be most correct to accept the reality.

And then, of course, it's a business. And, like any other business, some simply won't last forever. That's showbiz, kid!

This kinda says it.

But, getting back on topic...

Personally, I think trying to get the placed registered as an historic landmark -- under these circumstances -- seems desperate and gimmicky. If their hearts are in the right place, then why wasn't this done sooner?

And what if they succeed in registering the place but STILL can't raise the money to go digital? Then what?

I don't know how it works in Canada, but (I think) in the U.S. they could be screwed because they'd be "locked in" to preserving it as a drive-in. Working or not. They couldn't, say, turn it into a mall or a parking lot or whatever. In my opinion, they should "leave it be" and, thus, keep their options open.

Unless Canada is different. Which it is. [Smile]

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Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2234
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 02-27-2013 09:38 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm not completely sure of the exact conditions, but I know that there are at least three different "levels" of heritage designation in Canada: municipal, provincial and federal.

Municipal heritage sites (which is what this article appears to be describing) are established by passage of a bylaw by the municipal (rural muncipality, town, village or city) council. It is my understanding that a municipal heritage designation can later be revoked by having the council repeal the bylaw. I know that some buildings previously declared to be municipal heritage sites have been demolished after someone determined that they were no longer worth keeping for one reason or another.

I'm really not entirely sure what a municipal heritage designation does for you, other than possibly make you eligible for "save our history" government grants of some sort. I don't know how many of those are left to be had, though -- the federal government just more-or-less shut down a real historical site not too far from here last year because they decided to stop funding it.

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Bill Enos
Film God

Posts: 2081
From: Richmond, Virginia, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 03-15-2013 10:44 AM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Check Hulls Drive In. It's near Lexington Va. and has been operated as a non profit 501(c)(3) since 1999. It opened in 1950.The web site it great....lots of photos and history.

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Mark Hajducki
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 500
From: Edinburgh, UK
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 03-15-2013 10:53 AM      Profile for Mark Hajducki   Email Mark Hajducki   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Getting a heritage listing does restrict the uses of the site and makes future development more difficult (but not impossible).

If the landowner is not the same as the operator of the drive-in then a listing may make the lease on the property more secure (as the landowner will not be able to sell the site to Walmart etc.)

Additionally surrounding development may be restricted to avoid damaging the character of the drive-in (such as restrictions on light pollution).

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