Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lost On Lindell: Windsor Hotel & Cinerama Theater

With the recent heated controversy about the proposed CVS pharmacy at Lindell Boulevard and Sarah Street a few people have made mention of the nearby Windsor Hotel.  The Windsor Hotel was located at 4209 Lindell near the corner of Lindell and Whittier across the street and a block west of the proposed CVS site.  The SRO hotel was likely built in the 1920's as it is very similar in style to the surviving Leonardo Apartments across the street that was built in 1922.
The Windsor was demolished in 1993 to make way for new offices in a four story building for the American Cancer Society as well as the Cancer Society's adjacent Hope Lodge.  While neither building is outstanding architecturally, they adhere to the standard Lindell building line and seem to fit their context fairly well.  The overall density of the site is at least equal if not greater than prior to construction of the new buildings.
The Hope Lodge on Lindell.  Photo from SLU's Cancer Center site

Almost directly across from the Windsor in almost the same footprint as the generic Walgreens which replaced it was the fabulously modern Martin Cinerama Theater.
According to Cinema Treasures, the theater was built in 1962.  It was one of four Cinerama Theaters built by Roy Martin of Seattle.  The others were Seattle, Atlanta, and a near twin to ours in New Orleans.  They were billed at the time as having the largest indoor screens in the world, measuring 100 feet wide on a curve.
The modern lobby of the Cinerama - view under the mezzanine balcony level
If red was your favorite color, the auditorium was the place for you.  The giant semicircular red curtain surrounded plush red seats floating on a sea of red carpet.  Depending on which account is correct, the large auditorium had either 913 or 1,120 seats, both huge numbers compared to today's standard movie boxes.  Theater photos an online tribute to the Seattle Cinerama.
A news clipping from the days when theater operators went all out to set the mood for their feature show.  There was after all only one show, not 14 or 20.
The Cinerama theaters used three synchronized 35 mm projectors to project on the giant curved screen.  The process had been developed in the 1950's in an attempt for the movie industry to compete against television.  Article clippings from another Cinerama site.

The Martin Cinerama Theater was closed in 1988 after a run by Trans Lux Theaters.  The theater and another building to the east were demolished in 1997 to make way for the caged-in Walgreens, which is set back about 20 feet from the established Lindell building line.  It is the only building on the block face from Boyle to Sarah that does not conform to the standard.


STLgasm said...

Oh my god! Martin's Cinerama is retrofabulous! What a sorry waste.

Brian said...

These are amazing pics. I don't remember the Windsor, but I do remember the Cinerama. IIRC, it was being used as a church when I started at SLU. I had no idea it was so cool - I want it back!

Paul, do you have any pics of what used to stand on the site of the Lindell Marketplace? I thought that some historic buildings were torn down for what is now the Blockbuster/Pizza Hut.

Anonymous said...

Remember it well as my family owned the building just behind it on W Pine. Also dated the daughter of one of the managers so we watched virtually every movie there including 2001 A Space Odyssey... incredible. Another great asset lost forever.

Oscar on Keys said...

Wow, thanks for the trip down memory lane! I found this blog while searching for info on the old "Cinerama" Theatre, where my parents took me a few times as a kid. The first film shown there, I believe, was something about the "Wild West", soon followed by "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World", one of my favorite comedies to this day! I also remember seeing "2001" there, and that date seemed so FAR in the future!

I work in a building in the 4100 block of Lindell, and I was curious where the site was. I found it stood where the Walgreen's is now - ugh!

But thanks VERY MUCH, Paul for documenting otherwise forgotten images of St. Louis! I loved the pics of downtown, around St. Louis Centre, showing the busy shopping traffic there! I remember that, too - going downtown for Christmas to shop and look at the special windows! Famous had the best! I had almost forgotten about Kresge's and Scruggs! Seeing the pic with the little "Kresge" sign hanging below the sidewalk overhang REALLY brought back the memories! I could picture going there with my mother to eat lunch, the memory is still that vivid.

Thanks, thanks, thanks! I've bookmarked this page and will be back often, and I'll probably turn a few of my lifelong St. Louis friends on to it, too!

deb said...

I lived at the Windsor from 84-85. It was a hopping joint.

Anonymous said...

Stayed in the Windsor for $24 a week, no air and no TV, Murphy bed, in 1967/8. Had to put table and chair in the small bathroom in order to put bed down. $1 day for AC or TV and you had to carry from the basement as Charlie was getting on in years. Got TV for world series. Had awnings on either side of main porch, Windsor Lounge to the W and Stork Club to the E (where you changed the "Babies" at 7PM). great memories - Jack