BATH TOWNSHIP — The former Skyborn Skateland facility and Skyborn Drive-in Theatre have been taken down, stirring nostalgia from a number of community officials and members.
“When a community loses an iconic venue, such as Skateland, members of the community can become overwhelmed,” Bath Township Trustee Steve Ross said. “Everyone is thinking of the nostalgia of the good times they spent there. It is sad and we’re sorry to see it go.”
Skyborn Skateland was originally owned and operated by Skyborn Skateland Inc., and opened for business in 1956. On Aug. 14, 2002, Ripp Family Enterprises LLC purchased the 18,662-square-foot facility and operated the business until 2010.
Erica Collins, alongside her husband, took over the operations of the roller skating rink that same year. However, the couple defaulted on the lease-to-purchase agreement in June 2015, according to previous reports by this newspaper, and David Ripp regained oversight of the property in July 2015.
The Skyborn Drive-in Theatre first opened its doors on May 17, 1950 under Delber Kinsel, who owned and operated the drive-in theatre until his death in 1957. Kinsel’s widow sold the business in 1958 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.
The property is now owned by Barrett Paving Materials, Inc. and was rezoned in spring 2018 from a B-1 Business to Q-M Mineral Extraction, Storage, Processing and Manufacturing. The facility was still standing until January 2020. However, local officials expressed concerns regarding trespassing, vandalism and similar crimes.
Bath Township Zoning Inspector Jim Miller reported as trustees were considering the rezone that the company’s intention was to tear down the structures and extract the aggregate beneath the ground.
“Barrett (Paving) did advise that even though both structures would be dismantled, they would be interested in working with the historical society if there is an interest in preserving the old Skyborn Drive-in Theatre marquee,” Miller said at the time.
Fairborn Area Historical Society President Carol Baugh reported that the historical society owns the sign and that the group, alongside the National Parks Service Midwest Regional Archaeology Center, has been working with the paving company since 2018 to survey the land to indicate locations of former Old Osborn homes, railroad tracks, wells, utilities, streets and more.
The findings will be compared to aerial photographs and maps and the National Parks Service and historical society intend to re-create maps of Old Osborn. Surveyed areas include Haddix Road as well as land near Cox Cemetery.
The National Parks Service had to press “pause” on the project at the time due to rising temperatures.
Adam Wiewal of the National Parks Service told Baugh as the surveying was taking place that the parks service utilized “magnetic gradiometry, ground-penetrating radar, earth resistance and electromagnetic induction that are capable of detecting subsurface archaeological features.”
Contact Whitney Vickers at 937-502-4532. Linda Collins, who is a freelance writer for Greene County News, contributed to this story.