Monday, August 11, 2014

Circle Drive-In and The Things That Replaced It

I'd probably be facing the screen at this point (if a long way away). Picture by author, August 2019.

In the planning process of the blog's current layout, I had considered deleting this post in favor of the dedicated Circle Drive-In post I had written in 2012. However, I noticed that even though it was a later post, this page (originally on Newport Condominiums) had far more views, and thus better SEO.

The Circle Drive-In of College Station, Texas, was located near the corner of modern-day College Avenue and University Drive. Still whispered about on the Internet and unrelated to the Circle Drive-In in Waco, mostly intact but now a flea market, the Circle Drive-In was so named because (like its unrelated Waco cousin) a traffic circle was nearby (which is now gone). In the old Circle Drive-In page of the blog, I added three pictures from Mapping Historic Aggieland from 1964, 1979, and 1983. The address is officially unknown, some say 402 Nagle but I can't find a proof of that. More accurate is the opening from 1952, but even Cinema Treasures, which often lists the first movie(s) shown at a new theater, does not have much information on it.



Picture credit: Historic Aggieland

It disappeared entirely between 1979 and 1983 (probably closed soon after the time University Square came into existence, which had a movie theater of its own) and was quickly forgotten.

Both North Ramparts (400 Nagle) and Newport Condominiums (402 Nagle) were built in 1981. Newport met its end in 2013, either because St. Mary's bought it or because of questionable structural integrity (note in Street View, the siding is missing). Despite that, they were still leasing as "The Lodge at Northgate" a few months before demolition. The apartments were built on a modified pier and beam layout where the parking was below the building about half a floor down, which is admittedly somewhat unique for College Station, but buildings aren't worth saving on being unique alone. One comment I received (in August 2016) had some rather unkind words to say about the building, even back in the late 1990s: I lived in Newport Condominiums in 1998-99 [in] a three bedroom unit. The rooms were very small and narrow. The management didn't seem to clean the units for new residents. And it seemed like the management also did not like to repair things, paint either the interior or exterior, etc. The place was going downhill fast. I do remember it was cheap and the location couldn't be beat, as far as proximity to campus.

Some of the Street View pictures that were in the original version of this post can be seen below.

Most of the theater ended up becoming the "Mud Lot", a cheap dirt parking lot owned by St. Mary's, though when most of it was converted to actual parking for the church, the other half closed (and some of the land was never even used as parking). This would remain untouched for well over a decade until construction started on "The Stack at Legacy Point" (711 Church Avenue) which was in conjunction with redeveloping University Square (a project that is stillborn as of this writing), which seems to be relatively decent for those who actually lived there. The apartments have only one ground-level tenant, a MedPlus medical clinic branch ("MedPlus at the Stack") which opened in February 2014.

Updated August 2019.

UPDATE 01-21-2022: One more story--about where The Stack is today and stretching into the adjacent "The Field at the Stack" (site of the former Albertsons and adjacent stores), was supposed to be a 10-story Marriott hotel and convention center proposed by the city in 2005, but plans fell through.