Moonlite Drive-In Theatre reluctantly sets sale price

Moonlite Drive-In Theatre reluctantly sets sale price

ABINGDON, VA - A 66-year-old historical landmark could be lost any day. The Moonlite Drive-in Theatre in Abingdon is on the market, but the owner doesn't want to sell.

The theatre hasn't shown a film since 2013, but it wasn't until January that owner William Booker put a price on it. A firm $1,750,000.

"I paid $575,000 for it, I made a lot of sacrifices, I can't unmake," said Booker. He purchased the theater in 1992 and has since made it his life's work.

"Once went into the projection booth and saw how they ran the projection equipment in the old days, I fell in love with it."

But the price to run movies and buy supplies started to go up in 2006.  The theater's income wasn't covering costs.

"I looked at the bottom line and I said, if I keep doing this I'm gonna have to sell everything."

Then in the past couple years, all the theaters had to switch from film projectors to digital, costing $60,000 Booker doesn't have.

Mark Dollar worked for the theater along with general manager Barbara Faulkner, but they're just two of many locals whose memories of the theater go back to their early years.

"1989, Batman, starring Michael Keaton, had just come out," said Dollar. "Went to the Moonlite, packed to the gills, cars parked along the fences. Finally had to leave because there was nowhere to park."

Booker would rather reopen the theater than sell, but it depends on the funds. Booker says he is working to get grants from different organizations or government agencies but says that's harder than it sounds.

The theater is accepting donations that can be sent to its address, 17555 Lee Highway, Abingdon, VA 24210. 

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