Inclusion on National Register of Historic Places has its perks

This year has been a momentous one for the 99W Drive-In. In September, the local theater was one of five to win a digital projector from Honda’s Project Drive-In. In addition, as of last week the theater is now also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO - Officially ­listed -- Open since 1953, the 99W Drive-In is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“That was a while ago when we submitted. I thought, well we hadn’t heard anything, so maybe we didn’t make it,” said owner Brian Francis.

But then he received an anonymous looking letter from the Che­halem Park and Rec­rea­tion District and shared the image on Facebook. “It’s amazing to me how viral it went. I just didn’t even know how to put it on (Face­book),” he said. “In an instant the like machine turned on and the sharing capability turned on — 77,000 people that have seen it. It’s been quite a year for the theater winning the projector and getting on the register, a pretty im­pressive year.”

Now Fran­cis said he has to determine what benefits he has access to with the listing.

“I’m going to order a plaque of course, there’s a federal tax credit eligibility where if you’re going to be rehabilitating or fixing something you can get 20 percent of the cost … but there’s really complicated tax consequences with it,” he said. “Then there’s a freeze on the assessed value for property taxes for 10 years. There’s some grants that we are eligible for and building code leniency.”

This would also mean the marquee is exempt from the city’s sign code regulations.

As for celebrating, Francis said he’s not sure what he wants to organize but the news does correspond with the 61st anniversary of the drive-in, celebrated July 31.

“Being that we’re digital now I can have something to put in the screen that makes note of that registration,” he said, adding that he’s thinking the commemoration would be on the screen for next year.

He’s also hoping the listing will give him some additional clout in the future when it comes to the development of two nearby properties.

“We are a drive-in screen and it must remain dark there,” he said with concern for additional lighting that typically comes with property development. “It’s useful to be in the national register for that reason. But we’ve had good neighbors so far, that’s why the drive-in still continues there because it’s been very fortunate.”

The drive-in season continues through the fall. For movie schedule and special events, visit

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