The legacy of the Northfield Drive-In spans back to August of 1948, opening just in time to welcome movie-loving visitors before the seasons end. Though the Drive-In was to have opened four months earlier, contractor issues caused then owner Carl Neilman to delay the first season opening.
Its location on the New Hampshire-Massachusetts state line was no coincidence. Neilman wanted to be in Massachusetts, but didn’t want to have to pay two union projectionists (the minimum required by Massachusetts law) every night. To avoid this, the Northfield Drive-In was built with its projection booth and snack bar in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, while also partly in Northfield, Massachusetts.
Neilman would go on to become a pioneer of the drive-in business, eventually owning between 10 to 15 drive-in theaters throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Today, the Northfield Drive-In is the last of these theaters still in operation. And though the original screen was destroyed by a hurricane in 1951, the re-built screen is still used, maintaining the original dimensions of 80 feet wide by 54 feet high.
In 1998, Miramax Films contacted current owner Mitchell Shakour (whose family purchased the drive-in from Neilman in 1967) to inquire about using the Northfield Drive-In as a filming location for an upcoming film. Set in Maine, the film The Cider House Rules was filmed on location throughout New England. The three scenes that took place at a drive-in feature Toby McGuire and Charlize Theron and were filmed at the Northfield Drive-In on Halloween Day, 1998.
Still in business today, the Northfield Drive-In shows new and retro movies on weekends in the summer, continuing the retro tradition of outdoor movies for new generations.
Know Before You Go
Check out the drive-in's website to see the current movies they are showing.