18 July 2012
Last summer, the Fork Union Drive-In had a regular season with double feature showings of the latest movies every weekend night. But this year, both the screen and the public remain in the dark.
“I really don’t know what’s going on,” said Mary Cook, who lives across the street from the drive-in. “When my grandkids come we go two or three times a year. I know it would be greatly missed.”
The 180-car capacity outdoor movie theater is one of only nine drive-ins in the state, including the nearby Goochland Drive-In near Hadensville. In the heyday of the drive-in theater, Virginia had 132.
“I hope somebody operates it, because I think it’s a nice thing – a good thing for the neighborhood,” said Tee White, who has lived near the drive-in for 47 years. Many have voiced opinions similar to Cook and White’s online.
People from Chesapeake to Roanoke have posted concerned messages on the Fork Union Drive-In’s Facebook page, wondering when it will open. There were rumors that it might reopen for the Fourth of July weekend, but that did not materialize.
The Fork Union Drive-In was built by Frayser Francis “F.F.” White in 1953, who operated it until his death in 2011. White was a go-getter. The former merchant marine not only founded the drive-in, but also served as the postmaster for Bremo Bluff for 20 years, founded Virginia Oil Company in Charlottesville and served on the Board of Trustees for Fork Union Military Academy (among a slew of other volunteer activities). When White died at the age of 84 due to complications during heart surgery, he left the Fork Union Drive-In to his four children. A source close to the family said several offers have been made to buy the property. White’s daughter, Stephanie Armistead of Richmond, ran the drive-in last summer.
“I think at this point it’s kind of obvious that it’s not going to open,” said the source, who asked not to be named.
The Fluvanna Review tried to contact the White family for comment, but didn’t get a response by the time this article went to press.