Monday May 13, 2019 10:40 AM
This incredible Abandoned Drive-In Movie Theater sits just at the edge of a quiet little town near California’s Central Coast. The town is called Lompoc, and it’s where I met my wife, a little over 30 years ago while I was stationed at Vandenberg SFB.
A short drive from the Ocean, Lompoc is known as the flower capital of the US, due to it’s miles of agricultural fields where some of the most abundant and beautiful displays of flowers are grown and harvested.
As you come into Lompoc, from North to South, there’s an abandoned Drive-In Movie Theater on the left side of the main road into town. As soon as I saw it, a flood of memories hit me and I knew I was going to spend some time photographing this location.
We weren’t here for a photo shoot, the visit was for a totally unrelated issue, but I always have my camera gear with me while travelling so, if I could break away from the other stuff for a while I definitely intended on coming back to this spot.
After a delicious lunch at a local burger dive with family, I left the group and headed straight to the Drive-In to begin my shoot. From the front entrance of the drive-in all the way through the back of property where the “Walk-In” traffic would enter the site, the place was full of fascinating photo ops.
Because there is a recycling plant right next to the site, there were some people walking around outside the drive-in, and one of the employees noticed me and gave me some weird looks. Ignoring them, and acting natural, as if I belonged there, I continued on with my shoot. Lucky for me, the people weren’t inside the grounds of the theater, so I had a completely abandoned drive-in to spend my afternoon shooting.
Walking the entire interior of the drive-in, which covers quite a bit of real estate, I shot almost 200 photos. The snack stand was completely overgrown with shrubs, as was the playground, which at one time would have been teeming with activity. Full of kids buzzing around the monkey bars and swinging on the swing-set while parents stood in line for their snacks and beverages before the movies started playing.
A trip to the drive-in back in the day was a family outing, and people spent hours at those spots. Sometimes an entire evening, from sundown until late into the evening, these places were full of activity and life.
As I walked around shooting and reminiscing about my own adventures as a kid going to the Drive-In, it occurred to me, this Drive-In was no longer a place for humans. It’s a refuge for plants and wildlife where several different species of birds were flying around or perched on abandoned structures and critters scamper about with little concern for mankind contaminating this sanctuary. The property appeared untouched by humans for decades.
I truly enjoy the quiet solitude of visiting these abandoned locations, and documenting my time there. This place was kind of unique, in that it was a place I had visited previously in life, while it was still in use. Not as a kid growing up, but as a young man. Still, coming back to a place after 30 years and seeing it in such a state of disrepair leaves one with many conflicting emotions.
Hope you enjoy the gallery and if you’d like to see more Post-Apocalyptic Photography let me know.