Opened on December 25, 1937, the Drexel was one of 10 Columbus theatres owned by William and Ethel Chesbrough. When the couple divorced in the mid-1930s, Ethel retained ownership of the theatre, and in 1959, began leasing it to Bexley resident Jerry Knight. Knight carefully guarded the Drexel’s reputation by not showing mainstream films that were too explicit, and as such, had a successful run with the Drexel during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

Unfortunately, due to increased competition from suburban, auto-oriented shopping complexes that included national chain multiplex theatres, business at the Drexel diminished, and Knight decided not to renew his lease.