Kirkwood Cinema

338 South Kirkwood Road,
St. Louis, MO 63122

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1946 photo as the Osage courtesy of the Vintage St. Louis Facebook page.

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The theatre opened in 1932 as the Osage Theatre seating 642. Located just a few blocks south of the Kirkwood shopping district. The theatre was nothing to brag about as far as decor when it opened, just a single floor theatre.

Arthur Theatres took over the operations in 1961 and completely remodeled it and it became the Kirkwood Cinema. They did a nice job on the remodel redoing the lobby in an Art Moderne style. The auditorium was at that time lined with draperies covering the old bare walls and new seating was installed cutting the seating to 596. Arthur at times ran art films in the Kirkwood Cinema and when the Arthur Chain went out of business the theatre was operated by the Mosely Brothers. They did their best with showing art, revival and later became a discount house.

They gave it up in 1998 and it was then turned into a childrens theatre for live presentations. It continued to occasionally have programs for children. One of its biggest problems with the theatre in its later life was lack of parking. They had to make arrangements with the Mo. Dot. across the street to use their parking lot in the evenings.

By 2009, it had closed and was converted into office space and housing.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 10 comments)

Remofamily on May 16, 2004 at 9:43 am

The children’s theatre only lasted for a couple of years. The building is currently being renovated into loft apartments.

lindasue on January 27, 2005 at 3:15 pm

I was one of the cashiers at the Osage Theatre from 1961-65 (my high school years). My brother, Bruce, (now deceased), was one of the projectionists and my other brother, Brooks, was one of the ushers.

Would anyone be able to tell me if Mrs. Wendt is still alive and if so how I can get in touch with her. She was a wonderful boss and a dear friend.

My name at the time was Linda Martin. I’m now Linda Tate. My mailing address is 860 East Lakeshore Drive West, Shelton, WA 98584; my phone # is 360-432-1607; and my email address is Hope to hear from someone soon.

Thanks very much.

stlactor on March 30, 2006 at 5:24 am

Characters & Company, a non-profit community theatre company, owned the building from October 1999 to August 2002. The organization removed the center wall which had been constructed to convert the building into a two screen cinema and constructed a stage as well as backstage accomodations. With the addition of professional stage lighting and other technical accoutrements, the Kirkwood Cinema became an attractive venue for live theatre. Characters & Company brought new life to the building and served the community by providing family entertainment year-round. Under the leadership of Mark D. Vaughan, the theatre company produced a full-length musical for 2 weekends of each month and a one-act musical every Saturday morning which regularly attracted a large number of families. Unfortunately in 2002, Characters & Company lost the Kirkwood Cinema to a developer who converted the building into loft condominiums. An unattractive neon sign on the front of the building now advertises loft apartments. Despite the neon sign, the building, which was once full of life, now seems dark and lifeless.

JAlex on April 26, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Theatre opened in January 1937. The architect was O. W. Stiegemeyer.

Name changed to Kirkwood Cinema in June 1968.

JAlex on July 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

During the period of April 1967 to June 1968 theatre was known as the Osage Art.

Operators over years also include…Mid-America, RKO Mid-America, AMC.

The last operator was Harman Moseley who reopened the house in September 1991 as a twin (each auditorium seating around 200). Closure as a film operation took place in October 1999

Coate on July 14, 2011 at 7:27 pm

“ Arthur Theatres took over the operations in 1961 and completely remodeled it and it became the Kirkwood Cinema.” (Chuck Van Bibber)

“Name changed to Kirkwood Cinema in June 1968.” (JAlex)

So which is it? 1961 or 1968?

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on July 14, 2011 at 10:56 pm

My money’s on JAlex’s comment. The brother’s fact checking skills are second to none!

JAlex on July 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

My research has shown that the venue first appeared in the Arthur Enterprises blanket ad in April 1967. It was at this time the theatre became known as the Osage Art.

Prior to this time, theatre had been owned and operated by Henry, then Charlene Wendt.

My research also has shown that this theatre had union problems…even before opening. It was in 1944 that this, and two other theatres (the Kirkwood and the Ozark), effectively closed every other theatre in the area. (In brief, the film handlers struck in sympathy with the projectionists.)

DavidZornig on January 26, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I just posted a 1946 photo of the Osage, courtesy of the Vintage St. Louis Facebook page.

TheWiz on July 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

I worked for AMC in the early 70’s… A perk of working for AMC, was you could watch a movie at any AMC movie house for FREE… I remember a continuous Midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, what had quite the following.

I always liked the look of the Kirkwood.

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