Neponset Drive-In


No. 13614 Neponset Drive-In

The Neponset Drive-In was located at Neponset Circle.  Its entrance is now the entrance to Pope John Paul II Park.

The Neponset Drive-In was located at Neponset Circle.  Its entrance is now the entrance to Pope John Paul II Park.  The Neponset Drive-In Theatre opened on April 25, 1951.  The Boston Globe reported that day that the feature film would be Ma and Pa Kettle Back on the Farm, starring Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride.  The double feature included Double Crossbones, starring Donald O’Connor.  The bill also included a Disney cartoon.

No. 9905 Neponset Drive-In summer 1971

No. 1132 Neponset Drive-In view from the Neponset River

From a Facebook post

The Neponset Drive-In that was on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester for years. After my research I found out: It was a huge local hangout for teens in the 1950’s to the 1970’s. It became a flea market in the 1980’s and then vacant until the City of Boston turned the site into Pope John Paul II Park around the turn of the century. I saw 1 movie in the late 70’s there (a Bruce Lee Flick)… Good Times

Comment on the drive-in from Paul Delorey

Earl,  I found this photo on-line (summer 1971). I was interested myself in the dates of the drive-in.   Per 1- web source, the drive-in was at 775 Gallivan blvd from the 50’s. 60’s and 70’s.  in the 80’s it was a flea market. The drive-in, as well as  the dump next door was capped and filled with big dig dirt over a couple of years period.  It was opened as the John Paul II Park in 2001.  It was always great driving along the expressway at night seeing the drive-in movie (even though there was no sound from there).  In the 60’s I remember playing on the rusted swing set at the base of the big screen, as well as the greasy spoon snack-shop where we got burgers and popcorn, with 6 kids it was a bargain, I think you paid 1 price per carload, regardless of # of occupants. Ah …the good old days………

Per The Neponset River-A History-on the web——

1985: The MDC acquired the former Neponset Drive-In and Hallet Street Dump as riverfront parkland.

July 1990 Rails removed from Dorchester and Milton Branch Railway right-of-way

July 1992 The MDC acquired the Dorchester and Milton Branch Railway right-of-way for $530,000 to link the drive-in and dump site parkland with the Neponset Marshes.  

Per a movie theatre organization on the web—The Neponset Drive-In 775 Galivan Blvd-Dorchester, Ma- opened 1955-closed 1985!  

From John Krall:

From:james duchaney”  

Comments the Neponset Drive In was built in the middle forties after the dump was closed by
Demarteo contractor from No. Quincy.

How many people know that the drive-in was built on a dump? I did some amateur archeology at the river’s edge, next to the drive in. Several strata of refuse was exposed, revealing discarded ware of the era when the dump was in operation. There was a lot of pottery – dishes, cups, etc. Might it have been a private dump site for a business, e.g. a pottery manufacturer? Or was it a municipal enterprise, perhaps endemic to the locals of Neponset?

I looked through the Boston Globe archives and they didn’t seem to take note of the actual closing of the theatre. There is a 1983 article that shows it in operation. A 1985 article saying that the property was acquired by the MDC with some suggestion that the theatre might still be in operation. A 1987 article says that the screen will be demolished shortly.

Bob Rugo


Author(s):    Mark Muro Globe Staff Date: June 17, 1983 

I went to the Neponset Drive-In in Dorchester, a pastoral setting hard by the Southeast Expressway where the willows weep and the beige paint peels. Having suggested my invitation was not charming and indeed was sordid, the woman in my life refused to share the occasion. I went with my attorney. …We entered, cruising slowly over acres of old asphalt, gravel, broken glass, pull-tabs, cigarette butts and bottle caps. We parked and looked around. Fifteen hundred unused speaker stanchions sprouted like metal cacti, many of them uprooted or standing cockeyed. The impression, I felt, was of a graveyard….The sun set over the Expressway, all orange and red and gold. We seemed to be parked under a major approach to Logan Airport, a fact my attorney suggested might interfere with our enjoyment of the movie, if not our safety. A dark green Monte Carlo slipped through the dusk to find a place. A Nova, a Firebird and a beat-up Plymouth Satellite did the same. Behind us the occupants of a Honda Accord deployed lawn chairs and blankets so they could watch under the big sky. Lovers snuggled on a Camaro hood. … The cars grew ghostly as night arrived and the plot thickened. There were now 74 cars here, though spaces for 1500. During especially brutal moments, or at moments of love interest, horns honked. The glow of cigarettes in cars looked mysterious.

Globe  19 July 1985

“The official, who asked not to be named, said 18 of those acres now occupied by the Neponset Drive-In along the Neponset River were recently acquired at a cost of more than $3 million. …The official said the current owners of the drive-in, Verrochi Realty Trust, have between 6 and 12 months to relocate, …”

Globe 25 July 1985

“The Metropolitan District Commission has acted recently to acquire Dorchester waterfront property for conversion into public parks, fearing that the land might soon have been snapped up by commercial developers. MDC officials announced last week that the commission had spent $3.3 million to acquire the 14-acre site of the Neponset Drive-In, on the Neponset River south of Port Norfolk, and would acquire another 20 acres nearby.”


Date: February 16, 1987 Page: 37 Section: METRO

Long a landmark for travelers entering or leaving Boston on the Southeast Expressway, the Neponset Drive-In Theater screen soon will be nothing more than a memory.

The gray, crumbling screen, according to MDC Commissioner William J. Geary, is scheduled to be removed within the next few weeks as part of the agency’s plans to reclaim the Dorchester waterfront and create an esplanade along the Neponset River. Demolition is expected to take seven to eight weeks, Geary said in a press release today, and will involve dismantling the screen, removing the buildings and the speakers, and leveling the 20-acre riverfront site.

From Margarte Lamb:

The Neponset Drive-In was on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester for years. It had a single screen and was a huge local hangout for teens in the 50s to the 70s. It became a flea market in the 80s and then vacant until the City of Boston turned the site into Pope John Paul II Park around the turn of the century.

The biggest project is the 65-acre Pope John Paul II Park at the mouth of the Neponset River in Dorchester, which opened in 2001.


Posted on

April 23, 2020