Baden Theatre

8201 North Broadway,
St. Louis, MO 63147

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Baden Theatre

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One of two theatres located in the Baden area of St. Louis along North Broadway. The Baden Theatre was the more successful and the larger of the two. It opened in 1926. The Baden area was a predominately German neighborhood and they supported their theatre well. It was an independent theatre built, owned and operated by the Kaimann family who originated from Germany.

When the television era came along the Baden Theatre went to weekend only operation before closing entirely in 1965.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 13 comments)

Noir on September 15, 2013 at 4:31 pm

We saw the building but it was already closed(1965) by the time I saw it 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s…No theatre.

Baden always felt like it’s own little town. Other buildings around it continued for awhile. Arlens department store was there into the later 1970’s—I went to the closing sale. School uniforms and other little stores were there for a while. A few re-sale shops and antique stores were there for decades. Bars were still there. Sterling Grocery store was there for a time. The Hostess bakery outlet was well known on Broadway. The neighborhood was 92%-95% African-American for many decades. Plus people who lived in Walnut Park and Mark Twain neighborhoods made the journey through Calvery and Bella Fountaine cemetaries to reach Baden.

Almost all businesses on the far remote edges of North St. Louis pulled some old sustaining business from the more well-to-do prior residents who fled to the county. This sustained them, briefly. Ultimately, centers for the purchase of goods or entertainment pressed farther out. Income is very low and although there may have been over 100,000 at times in that zone, no theatres existed in that half of the city limits.

Baden is not far from the North Twin drive-in. North Twin was the ultimate surviver in this area staying open till 2001 that was in Jennings, North St. Louis County. I loved it. It is probably the closest shared experience of theatre to children who lived in a 95%-99% African-American ethnic North St. Louis City and counties and the prior Caucasian residents of North St. Louis who left North St. Louis closing down the theatres in 1950’s to 1960’s. Why? It is one of the few that stayed open that was in range.

Typically if you lived in North St. Louis City even as a child in the last half century you do not remember a theatre that closed 48 years ago. I do remember the building. Baden was always nice.

evian257 on September 17, 2013 at 10:29 am

Steve Kaimann was my great-grandfather. The company was Kaimann Amusement Co. At least two of his sons were in the business with him. His son William (my grandfather) ran the Bremen; another son, Clarence (my great-uncle) ran the Bridge, and also owned the North Twin Drive-In, as well as the property where Christian Hospital NE now sits.

jaccaj on September 30, 2014 at 9:07 am

My dad worked there from 1960 to 1965 .Alois George spies Along with a man call Clifford. Ushers

jaccaj on September 30, 2014 at 9:10 am

The was last owner was the Bowmans sisters I believe they own 5 theaters along with north drive-in theater . One other theater was the Bremen Theater

jaccaj on September 30, 2014 at 9:28 am

I could be wrong about the Bowmans ownership. But my dad did worked there as an usher I helped him with my 4 other brothers and two sisters. Cleaning the theater up .

jaccaj on September 30, 2014 at 9:40 am

We were at the theater on 4th weekend of the month account we were in the German St Vincent orphanage association on Normandy missouri.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 30, 2014 at 10:05 am

The Internet provides quite a few references to Theodore Steinmeyer, architect of the Baden Theatre, but every other project mentioned is a church. In Google street view, the Baden Theatre building shows a sign that says “St. Louis Worship Center & Banquet Hall.” It must have been preordained.

jaccaj on September 30, 2014 at 11:07 am

Baden theater seats were given to the Boy Scouts and theater became a funeral home my understanding

jaccaj on September 30, 2014 at 11:15 am


jgrebe on October 22, 2016 at 4:36 pm

A friend of mine from SLTOS , Wes Kamischkie, had told me before he died that adjacent to the right of the Baden was a place called the “Sugar Bowl” There was a window higher than normal into the theatre that patrons could buy their snacks for the movies. According to Wes, the theatre had no concession stand itself during the 1940’s when the ladies got free dishware for attending. In 1992, I was called to tune a piano in the place for a function of the Baden Town Hall. I gained access to the building from what would have been the front left exit door. When you go in that way to the immediate left which would have been the stage area behind the screen there is about 2 to 3 steps and that is where the owners office was. A Mr. Carpenter owned the building then and had owned it for about 25 years he said. Before WWII he sold popcorn at the theatre. He said when he bought the Baden he also had opportunity to buy the Kingsland also for $5,000. At that time, he and one of the Kaimann brothers had planned to build the North Drive In on land they had purchased. Before that happened the one brother died and the rest of the Kaimann family decided to build the drive in themselves. When Carpenter bought the Baden about 25 years ago he remodeled it. He simply gutted the interior and what would have been the entrance and vestibule is now a kitchen and bathrooms on either side. There is no evidence of a projection booth since there is now a dropped ceiling over the whole interior. Carpenter seemed to be a very crass person and he said the main reason most small theatre owners are un co operative is because most of them lost their shirts trying to operate in the green. Back then the only way operators could make money was to rent the films for one price for an extended period of time and for the owner to have close co operation with other small theatres and trade them amongst themselves. Carpenter said he traded with the O'Fallon and the Janet and would transport the films themselves. So competitors found a way to co operate together in spit of their rivalry to survive. There is no record of what would have provided music for the silents before sound movies.

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