Built St. Louis > > MidCentury Modernism > > Mark Twain Cinema

Two Hearts Banquet Center
originally Mark Twain Cinema
4532 S. Lindbergh at Gravois - south County
Architect: ?
Date: 1968

Toby Weiss put me on the trail of this one; I had the great fortune to arrive there just as dusk was falling. So very few buildings are truly best photographed at night, but this I believe is one of them. Two Hearts soars by day and gleams by night, its angled roof seemingly ready to soar to the heavens.

A history flyer on the bulletin board notes that the building was "designed by an architecture firm from Beverly Hlls, California" though they don't give a name. The rising trend of multiplexes meant that the Mark Twain Cinema was doomed almost from the outset; its single screen (holding nearly a thousand viewers) couldn't complete. It closed in 1986, and stood vacant for five years, seemingly facing certain demolition.

Then came that rarest sort of miracle -- the now owners spotted it and seemingly fell in love. The interior was gutted, the sloped floors leveled, and the theater space subdivided into two banquet spaces. Nothing remains of the interior finishes beyond the lobby, but it's a small price to pay for the preservation of this spectacular building, which today does a thriving business hosting weddings and receptions.

Photographs: November 2006

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