Downtown Historic Preservation

Good News Coming for Kiel Opera House?

by Michael R. Allen

I found this 1950s postcard view of the Kiel Auditorium in my files today, and thought that I would share. The caption on the back of the postcard reads:

The auditorium, outstanding among convention halls in the country, represents an investment of nearly $7,000,000. This beautiful structure contains an opera house; spacious exhibition hall; numerous smaller halls and committee rooms; and an extensive arena.
St. Louis, “The City of a Thousand Sights”

Of course, in 1992 the city began demolition of the Auditorium section, leaving the opera house, four auditoriums and part of the basement exhibition hall. However, what remains of the people’s palace is still undeniably grand.

Last month, Dave Checketts told reporters that reopening the Kiel Opera House would be pushed off again, this time to spring 2011. Checketts and development partner McEagle Properties have had difficulty selling the $29 million in bonds issued by the city of St. Louis toward the projected $74 million renovation cost. There are rumors that bond sales may close by the end of this year.

Hopefully we’ll get good news by year’s end. Maybe soon there will be a new postcard celebrating the triumphant return of one of the city’s finest landmarks of architecture and democratic accomplishment.