Sunset Drive-In and Roller Rink

20
City/Town: Hamburg
Location Class: AmusementTheater
Year Built: 1960s
Year Abandoned: 1990s
Status: Abandoned
Photographer: Michael SchwarzGinger Beck

The old marquee, no longer standing

First kisses, buzzing mosquito coils, and sneaking into movies in cars… these are several of countless memories of the Sunset Drive In theater and the Sunset Roller Rink in Hamburg, Arkansas, a small town of around 3,000 people in the heart of Southeast Arkansas.

For years, it was one of the only places of entertainment in the small town, a hot spot for birthday parties and movie dates.

Today it remains. Tall pine trees now cover the parking area, once shaped like a baseball field with seemingly endless rows for parking next to speakers on poles. A short step into the wooded area leads to the skating rink, an open air wooden structure with a wooden floor, which no doubt used to be slick for wheels to fly across. The beams above and the structural poles still stand strong. The outside is still emblazoned with white and yellow paint: Sunset Roller Rink.

1981 Movie Flier From Sunset Drive In courtesy of Connie Bozeman Clark

Walking deeper into the woods, visitors may find the occasional overturned speaker pole, but remnants of anything other than woods are rare… that us until suddenly a giant white triumph of wooden movie screen comes into view. Truly a testament to hard work and solid building, it stands with pride, held in place by massive beams. No trees or weather has torn it down. If a movie were projected on it today, it undoubtedly would only appear slightly aged.

A short walk away from the screen leads to a now defunct concession stand and bathroom area made of cinder-block, no doubt the site of many hot dogs, bags of popcorn, and fountain sodas purchased and consumed.

With the decline in the novelty of American drive-in theaters, it is our wish to highlight and remember this amazing structure, no doubt the hot spot of a small town, filled with memories that many people still fondly recount today.

As we do not have exact dates or history, please feel free to leave your memories in the comments.

20 Comments

  1. Would be great to clear the area and leave the screen and host free movie nights like the bank in crossett does on occasion

  2. i remember watching a movie on that screen with my wife in child .we had went to watch a movie on Easter Sunday . we ended up being
    the only ones there in Mr. Carpenter still let us watch the movie.

  3. Sherry Tucker on

    My cousins Imma Jean Noble and Robert Carpenter owned the drive in, and my
    Mother Margery Noble Tucker owned the skating rink. Love seeing these pictures. Thank you for documenting this.

    • Alicia McCone on

      I remember when your mother Margery Tucker purchased the skating rink and set it just outside the ticket booth of the dive-in. I remember they moved it in place and the original structure was a tent and the floor came in sections and had to be leveled so it could be skated on. Thinking back I never relized how much guts that took for one lady to do.
      Alicia Huffman McCone

  4. loved and lived at the skating rink on the weekends. not being old enough to drive but wanting a social life, the sunset skating was my life on the weekends. I still enjoy rollerskating. it would be awesome if they could bring them back

  5. I lived in Hamburg from the time I was born in 1980 until we moved to Missouri in Summer 1993. I remember my parents taking me to see "Return of the Jedi" here and I vividly remember the roller rink and all the birthday parties. I still have a fascination with this place and I'm amazed at how intact everything is after sitting for so many years. Great pictures and great write-up.

  6. Stacey McLeod on

    Oh what memories I have of the drive in and the skating rink. Grew up in Hamburg, lived there from the time I was born in 1967 until I married and moved away in 1988.

  7. Many fond memories here! I never snuck in, but I can remember some who did! They’d hide in the adjacent woods and then run 🏃‍♀️ to a car probably saving $1. Lol Mr. Carpenter was known to patrol cars. Fun days.

  8. Rita Murphy King on

    My home away, loved working there and being with my brother, sister and best friends planting the trees along the road, many good memories and some stressful ones when the flim, broke or the speakers went out but you had to be there, best days of my life!!!!

  9. Kem H Christmas on

    Many fond memories of the drive in and lots of time spent at the roller rink. Wonderful memories. Thanks so much.

  10. Terri streeter on

    Loved the sunset drive in!! I have watched many movies there as a kid and teenager. I wish we could bring this back & let the newest generation experience this!! Awesome memories with my family & friends!!!

  11. Spent many nights at the movie and skating to “Another one bites the Dust” !!!! Great place !!!! Thank you for the memories

  12. Lauren Carpenter on

    My grandparents Imie and Robert Allen "Bert" Carpenter owned and operated the Sunset Drive-In and Roller Rink for 25 years. Imie is very pleased to hear that an article had been written about a place that so many remain fond of! She often recounts memories from this time of her life. During the Golden Age of Hollywood, my grandparents traveled to yearly meetings in London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Chicago while representing America's small towns for the National Theatre Owner's Association. At these galas, they mingled/were friendly with many stars and starlets. The most notable among them: Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Sophia Loren, Bette Davis, Burt Lancaster, Julie Andrews, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, Gregory Peck, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone and Judy Garland. It's amazing to see the pictures that they took during these cocktail parties. A little bit of history as dictated to me by my grandmother: Charlie Carpenter, my grandfather's father, bought the land for his three sons (Charles, Jack and Robert A) from the Crossett Lumber Company. He gave the 25 acres of land to his sons. They also had the Hamburg, AR airport and "Carpenters" clothing stores. A tragic flying accident killed Charles and the boys who worked at the Sunset movie theater one Sunday afternoon. After that, only Robert A Carpenter, my grandfather, owned the Sunset Drive-In and Roller Rink. The Sunset was the only local business which employed teenage kids, who ended up making lifelong memories and also enjoyed all of the free concessions and movies that they wanted… a teenager's perfect job if you ask me! Times change and they shut down both businesses but my father and my grandmother, still own the property out of nostalgia. Memories are everywhere.

    • Do you know if they would be interested in selling it to someone who would bring it back to life.My husband and I have been looking to buy or build a drive in.

  13. Carmen Smith on

    Spent many weekends at that drive-in and then many fun times with my daughter at the skating rink. She had her 5th birthday party there. Ms. Imie and Mr. Robert A. Were great to all us kids! It’s sad that special places like that must come to an end!

  14. I was raised in this Rink and the Show it was my very first job . I'll have to ask MISS Imie when they built it but my earliest memory was 1971 when we moved to HAMBURG every time those doors was opened I was there a lot of PRECIOUS MEMORIES .

    • Earlene Laskey on

      I don't remember about the skating rink, but Tommy and I dated for 31/2 years and was at the drive inn every weekend. We started dating in 1959. He worked there and helped Bobby in the movie projecting room. Many great memories.

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