Monday, December 6, 2010

Fruitful visit to New Scotland once again!

So what do you think of that? I stitched together this image of the entrance to the Indian Ladder Drive-In using still frames from an 8mm film. The owner of the film was kind enough to lend me a DVD copy of the footage taken in 1957. The one-minute of drive-in footage was shot while attending a Methodist Church service held at the theater. Below are three of the stills so you can get a close-up view of them.

As soon as I have written permission I am going to post a video of the home movie.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back to New Scotland

Next weekend I'll be headed back to New York for more research and to conduct an interview with Bob Conahan Jr. and his sister. They are the son and daughter of Robert C. Conahan who built the Mayfair Drive-In Theatre in Slingerlands.

Yeah so? Well let me tell you this is pretty exciting for our project to land this interview. To date I have been able to find almost ZERO information, photos or memorabilia for this theater. Its like it never existed. Mr. Conahan Jr. admits that he and his family didn't save any photos (or anything else) from the theater. Mr. Conahan Sr. died two weeks before the theater opened in 1957, and the family sold the business after the '58 season ended. The Mayfair never reopened after that and the land changed hand several times. Currently home to a professional building it is being further developed for apartments.

And if time allows I'll swing by the Voorheesville Public Library and the Albany Public Library to do research and look at some microfilm back issues of the Albany Times Union. Keep your fingers crossed for a great interview and a newspaper article goldmine!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movie Clock - 02/05/84

Just for fun, here's the Movie Clock from the February 5, 1984 Albany Times Union...

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Visit to New Scotland

This past weekend I drove out to New Scotland to meet with Marion Parmenter of the New Scotland Historical Association. And it was well worth the three and a half hour drive! She shared stories, photos and a wonderful artifact from the Indian Ladder Drive-In with me. I in turn gave the museum a binder of articles and photos from my research for them to use in their archives. She also provided more contact information for New Scotland/Voorheesville residents that would be able to help me with even more info about the Legion Hall, Mayfair and Indian Ladder drive-ins.

She also invited me to write an article for their newsletter The Sentinel about the project including a plea for help from fellow New Scotlanders. So fingers crossed the goodies and interviews will come rolling in!

Okay, first up, a post card dated May 3, 1951. A direct mail advertising effort listing shows, prices and giveaways for the month of May.

And here is a photo taken from the front of Dunston's Garage looking toward the Indian Ladder. This came from a group of photos of Dunston's itself, that's why it is focused on the gas pumps.

And finally here is a great piece of the theater itself. A wooden indian torso (minus his tomahawk wielding hand) that would have been nailed to the stockade fence that faced Route 85. I do vaguely remember these fellows waving from that fence! This was donated to the museum anonymously by a someone who had swiped it as a college prank!

A long, long time ago, in a cinema far, far away…

November 8, 2010 at 3:00 am by Chuck Miller
Although Star Wars originally hit movie screens on May 25, 1977, the Capital District didn’t get to see the film until it debuted at Cine 1-2-3-4-5-6 on June 22, 1977, in what was then billed as an exclusive engagement at the theater. In addition to Star Wars, the Cine 1-2-3-4-5-6 was also showing Annie Hall, Rocky, Young Frankenstein and a Roy Scheider film called Sorcerer. I think Star Wars was on two screens at the time, which would indeed explain why the place wasn’t called Cine 1-2-3-4-5.

Another great post from Chuck Miller at Read the rest of his blog entry here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cracking the Code

I successfully cracked the code to Boxoffice Magazine's online Vault. Not really, it was free and pretty easy to do. But, I did find three interesting clippings, one each for the Turnpike Drive-In, Indian Ladder Drive-In and the Mayfair Drive-in.




Thursday, October 21, 2010

Research Road Trip

Heading to V'ville in a couple of weeks to meet up with a representative of the New Scotland Historical Association. Will gather photos and interviews for the archives.

- Allen

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Star Twin Cinema, Guilderland: UPDATE

Star Twin Cinema (1973-1974)
Opened on September 19, 1973 the theater changed ownership and names shortly after and became the:
Plaza Cine I and II (1974 - 1977)
6141 State Farm Road, Guilderland, New York.
It was on Rt. 155 behind the Star Plaza, near the intersection of Rt. 20. The building currently houses the Smith Center (Center For Disability Services).

The Plaza Cine was a second-run theater owned my Sam Ermides, president of Star Plaza. Ermides took over ownership and management from James Armendello, Frank Keening (Mayor of Kingston) and “Chili" Caruso. The three original owners also had a twin-screen in Menands and a single screen in Gloversville.

Of the many benefits that the theater was to provide were that residents “need no longer waste precious gas driving to theaters miles away.” And there is “plenty of parking space -- acres and acres -- immediately in front of the theater.” Admission at the time was $2 for adults, $1.50 for seniors and $.75 for children.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Star Twin Cinema, Guilderland: UPDATE

Research, research, research. A never ending slog through the morgues and archives of local papers. But sometimes it turns up a kernel, or nugget, of information that you didn't see before.

Here is a (very bad) scan of a photo from the Altamont Enterprise from a front page article about the opening of the new Star Twin Cinema in Guilderland. I'll share more particulars in the next post.

As always click on the image to see a larger version.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mayfair & Indian Ladder Drive-Ins

We heard from the New Scotland Historical Association yesterday. It looks VERY promising for an interview on the Mayfair Drive-In and for photographing and scanning Indian Ladder Drive-In memorabilia. Guess I'll need to plan a trip to V'ville!

Please visit the NSHA

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mayfair Drive-In Theatre, Slingerlands, NY

In an email exchange with Rick Cohen at (and it was pointed out to us that the Mayfair Drive-In Theatre was open for at least two seasons, not one as I had indicated in the theater description.

Not long after that, Mike Engle (co-author of Diners of New York) pointed me toward and their morgue of old newspapers. And sure enough while I was rooting around on, I located some back issues of the Schenectady Gazette from 1958 and found a handful of ads from the Mayfair.

Here are a couple for you to check out...

- Allen

Monday, September 13, 2010

Movie Ratings for Parents and Young People

As published in the Schenectady Gazette here are the MPAA ratings from 1970.

As always click on the image to see a larger version.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Indian Ladder Drive-In, New Scotland

Picked this up today from the fine folks at the Altamont Enterprise. They have a REALLY good searchable online archive. Published on July 23, 1965. (Click on image to see a larger version.)

- Allen

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Updates to the LINKS Page

We finally added some links to the LINKS page. Look them over, explore the sites, there's a lot of good info to be found! Also, if you have any suggestions for other good links to include let us know. Thanks!

- Allen

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From the archives: Cine 1-8 and Mohawk Mall

Anyone want some free movie tickets? Well we got 'em right here...

First up, a free pass to the November 10th (1986) showing of "An American Tale" at the Cine 1-8 in Colonie. This ticket is made possible by our friends at 81WGY.

And then we have a pass for you and a guest to the March 31st (1993) screening of "Jack the Bear" at the Mohawk Mall theater. Theses pases are compliments of FOX 23, Metroland Magazine, WGNA and 20th Century Fox.

You can see a larger version by clicking on the image.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hudson Theater Building, Albany, NY

While doing research today I came across this entry on the Library of Congress site:

Hudson Theater Building, 270-276 Hudson Avenue, Albany, Albany, NY
The Theater addition to the Albany Card and Paper Company Building (built 1872) was utilized as a Theater for 17 years from 1916-1933. Thereafter, it was used for warehouse purposes.

This is one of five photos taken of the building in 1984 as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record:

4. INTERIOR SHOWING PRESSED METAL CEILING / HABS NY,1-ALB,25A-4 (click on photo to see larger version.)

And click HERE for the Library of Congress entry.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Chuck Miller theater write-up

We lost a lot of theaters in the Capital District over the past few decades. Several theaters were knocked down to make the Empire State Plaza. Several drive-ins were repurposed for the expansion of urban sprawl. The few regional theaters in the Capital District have been chopped up into multiplexes.

There’s a building on Central Avenue in Albany. It doesn’t look like a theater any more; the building’s last tenant converted it into an automobile oil change shop. Now it sits old and forlorn, a tattered “FOR SALE” sign hammered into the weeded grass adjoining the building’s plain yellow façade.

There are no preservationists from Historic Albany Foundation running to save the structure. Any movie buffs who remember seeing films in that theater are reluctant to recall their favorite movies from that time.

Follow the link to read MORE

- Allen

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hello's from the mother land... Part 2

So we're on the radar in the Capital District... Chuck Miller (mentioned yesterday) did a nice write up about our website on his blog.

The Capital District had some of the most memorable motion picture palaces and intimate drive-ins around. How many of us remember the great Mohawk Drive-In on Central Avenue in Colonie, with the big arrow-toting Indian on the back side of the movie screen, visible to all drivers along Central Avenue. How many of us remember the great Hellman Theater on Washington Avenue Extension, the first theater in the Capital Region that was capable of hosting the biggest widescreen features of its day. And then there was the Petit Cine 1-2, which used to show…

Um… scuse me… gotta get back on topic.

Allen Pinney and his partner David Blanchard remember those old motion picture palaces and ozone gatherers, many of which have unfortunately disappeared today. Their plan is to chronicle those forgotten drive-ins and theaters of a bygone era into both a website – Project Movie House – and an upcoming documentary film.

Read the rest of his blog post here: The “Project Movie House” website

- Allen

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hello's from the mother land...

I had a nice email exchange today with Chuck Miller over at He sent me a couple of links (see below) to his blog posts. The first is about The Beatles movies and where they played and the second is about opening night at The Madison in Albany. Please read and enjoy!

When the Beatles Played in Albany
Opening Night at the Madison Theater

And check out Chuck's blog if you haven't already at

- Allen

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Script Snippit

Here's a small taste of the script's opening sequence...

But it is in the states, the home of Hollywood, that our story takes place. Starting in West Orange, New Jersey five years prior to the Lumière’s big night.

The inventions of George Eastman and William K.L. Dickson would meet in 1890 to produce the first public demonstration of motion pictures at the Edison Laboratories.

In 1889 George Eastman, inventor of the Kodak camera, had developed celluloid, a felexible, transparent film, capable of recording motion as well as projecting the image afterward.

In November of 1890 William Dickson, an assistant to Thomas Edison, built the first motor-driven movie camera. They called it the Kinetograph.

Followed shortly there after by the first movie projector – The Kinetoscope – Edison opened America’s first movie studio on his Laboratory property in 1893 and dubbed it the Black Maria.

In mid-April 1894, the first Kinetoscope Parlor opened in New York City and for the first time movies were commercially exhibited as we know them today.

- Allen

Friday, July 2, 2010

UPDATE: Script Feedback

Feedback is coming in on the script draft... Thanks! So the goal now is to finish researching, gathering archival material and conducting interviews. It's gonna be a while before it's complete, but I'm hoping to get it done within a year.

So all you potential contributors start getting your notes, photos and home movies together then drop me a line!

- Allen

Thursday, June 10, 2010

UPDATE: Rough Draft of Script done!

Well not the whole script! I just finished the rough draft of the Teaser and Act I. This gets us through just the Town of New Scotland and the three theaters located there. I'm going to mail it off to two of my colleagues and get their feed back and then start draft two.

Admittedly there are some holes. I need to schedule a trip to New York to conduct interviews, collect archival material (stills, footage, etc.). After that we can start putting together the first webisode!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Remember sitting in your car waiting for the show to start?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Update! Starting Script!

Well I actually started writing the first draft of the documentary script. I hope to have at least the Town of New Scotland section completed by next week.

The plan is to tell the story in short chapters as webisodes here on the site. Then eventually edit it all together as a longer (approx. 60 min) film.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Albany Times-Union ~ Saturday, July 5, 1975

I was lucky enough to stumble on a copy of the Albany Times-Union dated 1975. The page 8, page 9 spread held the local theater ads and movie times. Here is a list of theaters from the "Movie Clock":
Carman Drive-In, Center, Cine 1-2-3-4, Cinema 7, Delaware, Fox, Guilderland Plaza Cine, Hellman, Indian Ladder Drive-In, Jerhico Drive-In, Latham Drive-In, Madison, Mohawk Drive-In, Petit Cine, Towne, Tri-City Twin, Turnpike Drive-In, Glenvue, Mohawk Mall, Proctors Schenectady, Riverview Drive-In, Scotia Art, State, U.A. Plaza, Crandell Theater, Fairview, Hudson Studio, Sunset Drive-In, Hi-Way Drive-In, Malta Drive-In, Super 50 Drive-In, Autovision, Cinema Art, Hollywood Drive-In, Hudson River, Proctors Troy.
WHEW! That list covers Albany, Schenectady, Columbia, Greene, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties.

Hey, I'll hand out a no-prize if you can spot the "Adult" theaters!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Indian Ladder Drive-In: UPDATE

I was off to Voorheesville this past Friday to meet my sisters and work around the old family homestead. On my way into town I stopped off at the former Mayfair and Indian Ladder Drive-In properties to take some photos. I was surprised to find actual remnants of the Indian Ladder still exist.

I found the approximate location of the Projection Booth/Snack Bar, the ground still rises and falls and is covered in shale gravel where vehicle aisles were. There are light poles and a wooden fence along the right hand side where the entrance was. I even found an old, rusted Genesee Beer sign leaning against a tree. My father told me that they used to have these ad signs on the perimeter fence.

I'll attach a few pix here and post the rest on the flickr photostream.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Indian Ladder Drive-In

Here is a newspaper advertisement for the Indian Ladder Drive-In on Rt. 85 in New Scotland. This ad dates from the 1950's and was reprinted in the "Images of America" series book - New Scotland Township - published by Arcadia.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Star Twin Cinema, Guilderland: UPDATE

Well I have finally made some progress with the Star Twin in Guilderland. Apparently it was a second-run theater (done to keep ticket prices down) which I did not remember. Look for more updates on the Theater page.

Here is an ad from 1974 with the Held Over "Cries and Whispers", "The Seven-Ups" and their 'Kiddie Show' - "My Side of the Mountain":

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Star Twin Cinema, Guilderland

The hunt is on! We are trying to track down photos and video of the Star Twin Cinema (Plaza Cine I and II) in Guilderland, NY. This two-screen theater was located on Route 155 in back of the Star Plaza (Rt. 20 & 155).

If you or a friend have any leads on photos, videos, etc. Please let us know.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Greetings Movie Lovers!

Do you remember your first movie or for that matter the theater you saw it in? Chances are you do not, then again that could just be me!

Of the hundreds of trips I took to local movie houses it’s strange how few stand out – for one reason or another – in my memory… Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Dune, Midway, Sword and Sorcerers, Star Trek the Motion Picture, Rocky, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Jaws, Quest for Fire, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Big Top Pee Wee.
And along with those memories are even more fleeting visions of the theaters themselves; Fox, Hellman, Towne, Mohawk Mall, Cine 10, Mohawk Drive-In, Carman Drive-In, Turnpike Drive-In and the Indian Ladder Drive-In. And what about the friends and family I went with? My parents, the MYF gang, birthday parties and more.

Doubtless there will be many more films, many more theaters and memories uncovered as this project moves forward. I will start with the theaters closest to where I grew up (that no-mans land between Voorheesville and New Salem) and branching out from those to Guilderland, Colonie, Albany, Schenectady and wherever else it leads.

And since I know I’ll never remember all of these theaters I’ll be asking for help from you. Anyone that has ever attended one of the movie houses that may or may not exist now, I want to hear your stories, I want to see your photos and videos. I want to see some of the great memorabilia that you’ve collected as well (I’ve heard rumors of glass ash trays from the Indian Ladder Drive-In).

I’ll thank you in advance for having a better memory than mine and for saving more collectibles than I did. And I thank you for participating in this journey to our past, for loving movies and remembering the theaters they were shown in.

Okay, dim the lights, part the curtains and roll the trailers. Here we go…

- Allen

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Welcome to Project Movie House.

As it says in the sidebar this site is to be a documentary, of sorts, on theaters I remember from growing up -- in and around the Tri-city area of Albany, Schenectady & Troy, New York.

The project was born from my forgetting the name of a theater that used to be behind the bank where my mother worked in Guilderland. Until that point we had to travel ALL THE WAY to Colonie to see a movie! So this brand new, two-screen theater was a revelation!

I saw "Jaws" there. I even took a girl. Big stuff let me tell you. I remember being in the theater, jumping out of my pants when the head pops out of the boat, holding Amy's hand, even being driven there by our parents. But could I recall the name of the place? No. I was stumped, and the search was on.

I asked my wife, I asked my friend David, I asked my parents. Nobody could remember. So I turned to the one source I knew would have the answer: Google! Surprisingly it took a while to come up with the answer. I ended up at the website of the Guilderland Public Library and their online collection of back issues of the Altamont Enterprise. God bless you nameless worker bee who took the time and effort to scan and post PDFs of all those old newspapers!

My search was ended, I had found what I was looking for: Star Twin Cinema (1973-1974). It changed ownership and names shortly after and became the Plaza Cine I and II (1974 - 1977). It was on Rt. 155 near the intersection of Rt. 20. But alas, my search was not over. I then thought hey, what about the Indian Ladder Drive-In out on Rt. 85 in New Scotland? Wonder what's up with that? And I was off on another hunt for info, photos, stories, etc.

So here we are and what I hope will be a fun trip down memory lane for you and me. Please feel free to comment, email and share your own memories, stories and photos. And watch for the next post (which I hope will be soon) as I begin introducing theaters!

- Allen

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