U.S. drive-ins face obstacles, Maryland’s lone theater stays afloat

D. Edward Vogel is the owner of Bengies Drive-in Theatre, which was built by his father and uncle in 1956. (Capital News Service photo by Lauren Loricchio.)

By COLLEEN WILSON, Capital News Service

BALTIMORE – Bengies Drive-In Theatre is a sentimental time capsule for movie patrons – it’s the last surviving drive-in theater in Maryland, and one of only about 360 remaining nationwide.

Parked prominently on the property are a 1950 Chevrolet Fleetline Fastback and a 1958 Ford Edsel, reminiscent of Bengies’ 1956 opening.

Drive-in theaters are historical reminders of the era when automobile purchases spiked following World War II and the nation’s love affair with cars blossomed, according to Wheeler Winston Dixon, a film studies professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Today, D. Edward Vogel runs the outdoor movie theater that his father and uncle built. His father, Jack Vogel, engineered and built the screen that still stands today and is the biggest in the country, according to D. Vogel.

Bengies is nestled just off fast-paced Eastern Boulevard in Baltimore County. Its eye-catching red, white and blue sign with traditional letters spelling out the featured films of the week stands in stark contrast to the commercial buildings that have sprouted up around it.

Destined for the Drive-In

Vogel chuckles that he was born to run Bengies, and officially purchased the property from his father in 2007.

“I remember my dad laughing at me when I told him that I was going to exercise the [lease] agreement. And I said,

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