Shady Oak Cine
7630 Forsyth Boulevard,
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By looking at this theater, you wonder how it got the name of Shady Oak. It is surrounded by nothing but concrete and steel buildings, but it started as an airdome shaded by oak trees, thus giving the airdome its name.
An indoor theater opened next to the now long-gone airdome on May 3, 1933 with Eddie Cantor in “The Kid From Spain”.
The Shady Oak Theatre, located in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton at the intersection of Forsyth Boulevard and Hanley Road, has the warmth of an intimate cozy theatre. It has always shown movies up it’s closing.
It was part of the Arthur Enterprises Inc. chain until they went out of business, and then operated until its closing in 2000 by the Wehrenberg Theatre chain.
The theatre was a rectangular shape with some Art Deco style touches, mainly the wall lights. The lobby was sectioned into two parts, the main entrance plus the concesssion stand. The lobby originally had concrete walls but was paneled in a 1973 remodel. The ceiling holds mirrors and cube modern lights. The lobby’s second section is down a flight of stairs. The concession stand attracts attention as the main focal point.
The Colonial-style brick facade has three doors with arches and a small potico which stretches over the ticket booth. Although the front gives the appearance the theater is only one story it is not. The lobby has one story and further back stands the auditorium with it’s balcony. The balcony held a major advantage for the Shady Oak of the 1980’s. Many celebrities attended the theatre because people wouldn’t bother them and they could sit in the small balcony. Many St. Louis Cardinals players would attend the Shady Oak because of the privacy.
For many years the Arthur Chain operated the Shady Oak as an art theatre but when the Wehrenberg chain took over they changed to format to first run.
The Shady Oak Theatre sat among high-rise office buildings and condos in downtown Clayton and was somewhat of a landmark. Parking was a problem since the Shady Oak Theatre didn’t have it’s own parking lot. They had arrangements with some of the office buildings around the theatre for parking.
The building with its quaint and warm atmosphere was closed in 2000, and sat unused collecting dust for several years until it was demolished in November 2008.
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