FAIRBORN — The Skyborn Theater marquee sign, the last marker of the namesake drive-in movie theater, has been moved from its spot off of S.R. 235 and into storage.
Tuesday morning, crews from the Don Ehrhart Construction Company lifted the sign off of its foundations, and removed it in four sections. Workers cut the steel implements holding the sign in place, as well as the electrical wires used to light up the marquee. The sign has been moved to secure storage and will remain there until the Fairborn Area Historical Society (FAHS) is able to refurbish it.
Barrett Paving Materials, Inc., donated the sign to the historical society after it purchased the property in 2018. However, the company required the sign to be removed from its location in order to comply with local regulations.
FAHS president Carol Baugh thanked Barrett Paving for its patience and cooperation in maintaining the sign for the Fairborn community, as well as Don Ehrhart Construction Company for its work in moving the large pieces of the marquee.
The FAHS is looking for a permanent home for the sign, and has several locations under evaluation.
The sign was at risk of moving out of the city of Fairborn and being sold into the hands of a collector. At that point, it would have been much more difficult to get the sign back for the local community, according to Baugh.
The Skyborn Drive-in Theater has been around for much of the city’s history. Delber Kinsel built the theatre after he moved to Fairborn in 1950. Kinsel worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an accountant. The drive-in theater stood on the land of his family farm. Kinsel owned and operated the theatre until his death in 1957. In 1958, his widow sold the business to Sidney C. Brant and Associates of Cincinnati for $110,000. Chakeres Theaters purchased the business in 2009, and operated the drive-in theatre until the closing of the 2015 season.
Barrett Paving acquired the property after the land was rezoned in spring 2018. The company currently extracts aggregate from beneath the foundations of the former theater and the adjacent Skyborn Skateland. Both buildings were demolished in January 2020, after local officials expressed concerns regarding trespassing and vandalism.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Howard Trucking as the business moving the sign, rather than Don Ehrhart Construction Company.
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.