Group Seeks Designation For Kenwood Drive-In

by Rick Howlett on August 1, 2011

The Iroquois Civic Club and Neighborhood Association in south Louisville is hoping officials will approve its request this month to grant landmark status to the 62 year old Kenwood Drive-In.

The Metro Historic Landmarks and Preservation District Commission will consider the application at its August 18th meeting.

The designation would require the drive-in’s owner to seek the commission’s approval before altering or tearing down structures on the property.

City preservation officer Richard Jett says there are no other drive-ins left standing in Louisville.

“Ultimately, there were nine such drive-ins, but this is the last one in Jefferson County. There’s one (nearby) in Indiana, but this is the last one,” he said.

The Kenwood opened in 1949 and closed in late 2008, when its owner, National Amusements, put the property up for sale.

Jett says no one spoke publicly against the designation at a commission hearing in June, but National Amusements spokeswoman Rachel Lulay said in a statment that “as it is for sale, we would be opposed to any designation that would make it difficult to sell the property. We would sell the property to anyone who would be interested in operating a drive-in theatre or for any other use approved by the city and county.”

Jett says there is precedent elsewhere for similar designations.

“I know that there have been others that have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places, because they represent such a unique aspect of post World War II culture that was dominated by the automobile.”

(Photos, from top: Kenwood marquee; the drive-in’s present screen; original concrete block screen, from a Courier-Journal photo taken just before the 1949 opening. These and other photos are in the Metro Historic Landmarks and Preservation District Commission’s Kenwood Drive-In Designation Report.

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