Cinderella Theater

2735 Cherokee Street,
St. Louis, MO 63118

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Cinderella Theater

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Wehrenberg Theatres has gone through many transitions since it opened in 1906 and has bad an impact on St. Louis theatres history. It is the oldest family owned continually operating movie chain in the United States. The first theatre was started by Fred Wehrenberg in a bake shop. He also built the first movie house in 1910 in St. louis and named it the Best, which stood on Cherokee and Jefferson. The Best had 224 seats. The next to open ws the Tent — St. Louis'first air dome — the New Cherokee and Cinderella.

Of these, the Cinderella became the corporated headquarters. Located at 2735 Cherokee, the 1,800 seat house had been a roller skating rink. The side windows, which stretched the length of the rink, had to be covered with red velour curtains to block out the sun when it became a theatre. The Cinderella was said to be a favorite spot for teens and boasted a candy counter known as Ronnie’s Sweets. It held the widest screen, 37 feet, of any neighborhood theatre in the state and two balconies. The ornate lobby was circular and in pastel shades. For many years the offices of the Wehrenberg chain were above the lobby in the office building in front of the theatre.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

JamesGrebe
JamesGrebe on February 17, 2005 at 4:51 pm

A Kilgen Thetare Pipe Organ was installed in the Cinderella. When towards the end the pipe organ was thrown into the alley behind.
JamesGrebe

JAlex
JAlex on February 26, 2006 at 6:28 am

Began showing films in 1915, a Freund Bros. operation. Did not become a Wehrenberg operation until 1928.

The architect was Wm. Wedemeyer.

JAlex
JAlex on February 26, 2006 at 11:51 am

The Inquirer was mistaken when saying Fred Wehrenberg did the conversion.

JAlex
JAlex on February 26, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Indeed, that book is wrong. This but one of the numerous errors within its covers.

Cinderella roller rink/dance hall opened in 1913 by the Freund Brothers who two years later, in 1915, converted it into a movie house.

Wehrenberg also obtained the Melba from the Freunds.

JAlex
JAlex on February 26, 2006 at 7:17 pm

The Cinderella Airdome (originally known as the Favorite Airdome) was located at the northeast corner of Cherokee and Iowa. The Favorite/Cinderella Airdome was a Freund operation physically seperate from the Cinderella Skating Rink/Theatre on the northwest corner. The Airdome began operation in 1912. This was a Freund operation.

The Cinderella Skating Rink/Theatre opened in 1913 (Freund operation); Converted to a theatre in 1915 (Freund operation).

The airdome site in 1926 became the Cinderella Ballroom, later known as the Casa Loma Ballroom and still in operation today (although not the original building which burned c. 1941). The Ballroom was built and originally operated by the Freunds.

DaveLossos
DaveLossos on April 30, 2006 at 2:42 am

Some listings from the St. Louis City Directories:

3352/54 Iowa was the address of the “Cinderella Dance Academy” in 1930. In 1936 it was called “Cinderella Dance Palace”, presumably printed to late to list the new name Kawell and Burian gave it in September of 1935. However in 1938 and 1939 it shows up as Casa Loma
Dance Hall for the first time. Also, for the first time in 1939, 3352 Iowa was also the home of “New Cinderella Recreation Bowling Alley”. There was a bowling alley beneath the Casa Loma Ballroom the night it burned based on newspaper accounts (Jan 1940). Casa Loma Ballroom appeared in the directories in 1940 and 1941. In 1942 it was once again listed as Casa Loma Ballroom at 3352 Iowa.

Also of interest is that fact that there was, in 1924, a “New Cherokee Theater” at 2710 Cherokee, and a “Cinderella Airdome” at 2727 Cherokee. 1924 was also the first year a “Cinderella
Theater” was located at 2735 Cherokee (listed the same in 1924, 1925, 1930, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1942).

The Cinderella Bldg (which included the “Cinderella Hall” plus numerous other businesses) was listed at 2733 a Cherokee from 1924, 1925, 1930, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1942. This is the same building that still exists, just west of the Casa Loma Ballroom.

JAlex
JAlex on May 3, 2009 at 4:56 pm

It may be of interest that, on page 29 of “100 Years of Entertainment”, published for the 100th anniversary of Wehrenberg Theatres, it is said the Cinderella started showing movies in 1915 after being converted from a skating rink. The text also says Wehrenberg acquired the Cinderella in 1924. While the text does not say who did the conversion, it seems doubtful that Wehrenberg would have done so before acquiring the house.

My research shows this operational timeline:
November 1913 – Opens as dance hall/skating rink.
October 9, 1915 – Freund Bros. begin movie house operation.
October 1925 – St. Louis Amusement takes over operation.
October 1928 – Fred Wehrenberg takes over operation.
Sept. 27, 1958 – Wehrenberg closes as movie house with bill of “Bridge Over the River Kwai” with “The Long Haul.”

rso1000
rso1000 on February 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I was just there Friday visiting friends who operate the Casa Loma.

The theatre facade looks almost exactly like it does in the photo at the link below. The word CINDERELLA is still visible in the 2nd floor window.

View link

There are 2 older photos at the above link also.

The store front on the corner is now a tax refuned business, one of 4 tax return businesses in the theatre block.

The neighborhood still has a lot of vacancies. But, there are also a lot of rehabs taking place saving the beautiful old houses, along with many new “ independent businesses ” opening —– coffee shops, restaurants, book stores etc.

The Casa Loma Ballroom is also going strong with dances and private events. Plenty of info and photos at… www.casalomaballroom.com

Weekend
Weekend on March 12, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Lost memory is just that. Lost.

JAlex
JAlex on April 19, 2014 at 8:47 am

The current owner of the Cinderella Building is in the process of restoring the building’s facade.

http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/cherokee-street-s-cinderella-getting-a-makeover/article_0bdfc71c-d7c9-59e6-a90d-fa603580c3ce.html

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