Shady Oak Cine

7630 Forsyth Boulevard,
Clayton, MO 63105

Unfavorite 4 people favorited this theater

Shady Oak Cine

Viewing: Photo | Street View

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.

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 theater. It has always shown movies up it’s closing.

It was part of the Arthur Theatre chain until they went out of business, and then operated until its closing in 2000 by the Wehrenberg Theatre chain.

The theater 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 theater 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 theater 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 theater 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.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 17 comments)

rkolodny
rkolodny on December 3, 2008 at 1:44 pm

“Oldtheatermanager” – You are nearly right on the story. How do I know, I was one of the five owners. I was the only person who tried to buy everyone out so I could keep the theater running. (It did not matter that Wehrenberg filed for bankruptcy, they rented from us.) Some could not agree on what to do. Others were just greedy. And not one of the four wanted me to buy the building even though it was going to be sold. My husband and I hoped to buy her, move to St. Louis (my home town), give the girl a face lift and keep her going. I tried as hard as I could but 4 people out voted me and I have been sick about it to this very day.

DavidZornig
DavidZornig on May 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm

This is a little late, but I wanted to commend Wintermute on her apparent valiant efforts to buy her hometown theatre, and keep it operating as such. It’s a shame her efforts met with such resistance by her business partners.

engersal
engersal on October 14, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I used to love the Shady Oak in the days when I was a grad student at Wash U from 1988-91. My girlfriend, who later became my wife, and I saw saw a lot of great movies there during study breaks. I have not thought about it in years. Today, during a divorce mediation session with that same woman, I pulled out a line from a movie we have often quoted to each other over the years — When Harry Met Salley — to lighten the sadness of the end of a twenty year relationship with the woman I love… .

engersal
engersal on October 14, 2009 at 7:11 pm

… So it is just amazing how the internet works to connect us with lost memories and tie up loose ends. Today, one of the saddest days of my life, I think of an old movie line (Marie to Jess: “I want you to know that I will never want that wagon wheel coffee table”), then remember that I first saw that movie 20 years ago with the very woman I quoted it to today, then remembered that we saw it on a study break date at the Shady Oak, then found out through this search that the Shady Oak — like my marriage — now exists only in memory. I guess it proves what the wise man said: “It all rolls into one and nothing comes for free there’s nothing you can hold for very long.”

KingBiscuits
KingBiscuits on October 14, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Does anyone know the story about the ghost that supposedly haunted this theatre?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 25, 2009 at 3:41 am

The Shady Oak Theatre was a Fanchon & Marco operation when it got a new manager named Howard Albertson in 1952. Three years later, Boxoffice Magazine ran a two-page spread about the Shady Oak and the unusual policies Albertson had established at the house. A photo of the theater was featured on the cover of that issue of Boxoffice as well.

Dramatrauma
Dramatrauma on April 9, 2010 at 6:06 pm

The Howard Albertson article should be cut and pasted into the “Commentary” section as he had some good things to say about running a movie house.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on February 3, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Continuing the line of bittersweet experiences at this theatre, on my last visit to this theatre in Christmas 1984 my father and I saw “Beverly Hills Cop” on a Saturday night. It was the last movie I saw with my dad. He was killed in September 1985.

I seem to recall posting this info on this page before but I guess it got deleted (hopefully unintentionally).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 13, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Here are updated links for the Boxoffice Magazine items mentioned in my earlier comment:

Photo of the Shady Oak Theatre on the cover of Boxoffice, September 24, 1955.

The article abouttheater manager Howard Albertson begins on this page of the same issue.

jmiller
jmiller on January 15, 2013 at 5:02 am

They should probably have called the Shady Oak the Melancholy since it seems to hold both happy and sad memories for quite a few of us, it seems.

I remember going here with one of my life’s two unrequited loves for “Children of a Lesser God” in 1986. I was also there for a movie with one of my former girlfriends in the early 1990’s.

This was a pretty straight-forward cinema, but low on frills. No sophisticated projection or sound. So, what you got was pretty basic. The design of the place was what you most remembered.

Other films I remember here were “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” and “Face/Off.”

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment

Subscribe Want to be emailed when a new comment is posted about this theater?
Just login to your account and subscribe to this theater