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Baden Theatre

8201 N Broadway
Saint Louis MO 63147

Record #18906  
 Opened: 1926
 Closed: 1965
 Current Use:
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: Wehrenberg Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

As far back as 1908, there was a theater of some sort in the Baden neighborhood of northern St. Louis; that's when Charles Donk showed movies at 7919 N. Broadway. The following year, the Baden Amusement Company opened the "Baden Barn" in Carlos York's horseshoe shop. It was later officially renamed the "Baden Family Theater" and managed by Frank Hoffman. The city directories of 1913 and 1914 don't list this venue, but they do indicate that one H. Glover was running a theater at 7853 N. Broadway. The Baden Airdome followed at 8402 in the mid-teens, and by 1920 a theater by that name was in operation at 8201.

It was on the site of this open-air theater that Stephen Kaiman built a "hardtop" theater called the Baden in 1927. When he retired eight years later, his children, Ann Kaiman Ballman and Francis Kaiman -- who had been working with him from the start -- took over the operation. The Baden was just one of the many North Side theaters the Kaiman family was involved with.

A 1957 bomb threat was most likely the work of a couple of unruly kids who had been ejected from the theater earlier in the day; still, police searched the building for 45 minutes in the late evening hours and found nothing.

Once a staunchly German enclave, Baden became more and more of an African-American neighborhood toward the end of the century. Many longtime residents joined the exodus to St. Louis County and beyond, and with the advent of suburban multiplexes, single-screen neighborhood theaters like the Baden became less practical. In 1967, Mrs. Ballman sold the building to Don Carpenter and it became the home of the local Teamsters chapter. The building is still standing, but since the marquee came down in 1968 it hasn't looked at all like a theater.

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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 6/5/2016.

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