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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.
Continuing on from its awkward beginning, the Northfield Drive-In’s storied history now spans many decades filled with laughter, smiles, and clean wholesome family fun. Today the Northfield Drive-In remains as one of less than 20 drive-in theatres still remaining in all of New England.
The original owner, Mr. Carl Nilman, was a pioneer in the drive-in business, eventually owning 10 to 15 drive-in theatres throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Today the Northfield Drive-In is the last of these 15 theatres still in operation today. And though the original screen was destroyed by a hurricane in 1951, the re-built screen is still used today, maintaining the original dimensions of 80 feet wide by 54 feet in height.
In 1967 theatre ownership changed hands when the Shakour family purchased the Northfield Drive-In. Doing so adding to a growing family group of theatres that also included the Keene Drive-In, which opened in 1953, the same year Mitchell Shakour the Northfield’s current owner was born.
A labor of love, the Northfield Drive-In of today is a true family affair with Mitchell’s wife, Carla (a veterinarian by vocation), having operated the snack bar for almost 20 years, along with his son Gabriel, and daughter Lili, often found helping at the snack bar and ticket booth most summer nights.
Among its distinctions, the Northfield Drive-In is believed to be the only drive-in theatre straddling two states (NH and MA). We also possess our own place in Hollywood history, with three scenes from the Academy Award-nominated film ‘The Cider House Rules’ having been shot here on Halloween day in 1998.
Though the last 60 years have brought about many changes in technology, culture, and demographics, the Northfield Drive-In remains true to its original intent of being an affordable, family-friendly, entertaining night out. The Shakour family is grateful to all those welcomed by Northfield Drive-In over the years, and look forward to a long, warm future of greeting movie lovers for nights of film, food, and clean family fun.
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