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 5 comments)

JAlex on September 26, 2007 at 7:18 pm

Theatre operated from 1916 to 1965. Seating capacity of 939.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on October 4, 2012 at 6:11 am

There might have been two houses called the Baden Theatre. The September 19. 1925, issue of The Reel Journal had an item about a proposed theater on North Broadway in St. Louis:

“Steve Kaiman, owner of the O'Fallon and Baden theatres in North St. Louis plans to build a new theatre at 8200 North Broadway, a block from the Baden. The new house will cost about $75,000 and seat 800 persons. The plans call for a two-story building, 60 by 130 feet. Contractors will be asked to submit bids on the construction work this week. Theodore Steinmeyer, International Life building, is the architect.”
Darren Snow’s CinemaTour page about the Baden Theatre says that the house opened in 1927, and was built on the site of a theater called the Baden Airdome, which had been in operation at 8201 Broadway since at least 1920. The magazine article gives the address of the proposed house as 8200 Broadway, which would be across the street from the actual location of the Baden, but that might have simply been an error.

Also interesting is the statement that the new theater’s site was “…a block from the Baden.” Perhaps that house a block away was the theater that opened in 1916, or perhaps it was the Airdome that opened in 1916. Either way, it seems likely that the existing Baden Theatre building was built in the mid-1920s, not 1916, though judging from the architectural style it could have been built in either year.

JAlex on October 4, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I mispoke when giving an opening year of 1916…it should have been 1926. Trade papers noted the construction contract in November 1925.

The other hardtop in the area was the Hoffman/Baden Family at 8237 N. Broadway which was listed in the 1911 City Directory.

Indeed, the Baden at 8201 replaced an airdome which had opened in 1921.

As well, there had been an earlier airdome at 8414 N. Broadway which had opened in 1915.

Noir on September 16, 2013 at 12:31 am

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 6:29 pm

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.

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