Kenna Gottschalk, Staff Writer
The St. Andrews Cinema was recently deemed uninhabitable by St. Charles County after what is believed to be an electrical fire that broke out in the middle of the night on Oct. 2. The popular movie theater in St. Charles will be closed, leaving people searching for a new place to watch movies while it is under repair. The theater is 49 years old and the second oldest continually operating cinema in St. Louis.
Because of the history the theater holds, many in the town were saddened to hear of the news.
“Oh I was in tears,” said Chris Smith.
Smith and another long-time customer, Paula King, have been volunteering to help with renovations at the dollar theater.
“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I cannot believe all the work we just put into it.’ That just killed me,” said King.
Firefighters say that the fire seemed to have started in the concession stand and was electrical by nature. Thankfully, no one was harmed but the frequent customers of St. Andrew’s are certainly shocked.
One movie-goer commented on the situation saying, “It’s just unfortunate that a fire occurred and now it’s closed down. We need it to open back up.”
When firefighters arrived at the scene there was heavy smoke in the building. They forced entry into the front of the building, and found the fire appeared to have started in the lobby/concession area. There were no flames found but smoke was coming from the roof. Reporters were told that it took crews about an hour to completely contain the area.
Sonya Hunt, a customer of the Cinema, was just there with her son a few weeks ago. She says because her son doesn’t like a lot of crowds, St. Andrews theater “is perfect, it’s always perfect for us when we go in.” Hunt also says that they prefer this theater opposed to others because although others are available, this bargain theater is one she says she “can depend on.”
Another customer, David Schaal, is also devastated because the cinema is home to a lot of special memories for him. He says he’s been going there for a long time, and it’s something him and his friends like to do together. Schall also says they like to buy tickets for the children at the Children’s Hospital so they can go and see movies as well.
According to a post by Tristan Ratterman, the manager of the cinema, “an outlet had been rigged ‘extend’ across the brick wall and covered by a wire cover on the wall.”
The fire started in the lobby, which was completely damaged. The rest of the building has smoke damage. Ratterman said insurance will come out to check the building, and no one was injured during the fire.
There is no date set for when the theater will open again.
Ratterman wrote in his Facebook post that the fire was “absolutely devastating given the cinema’s age, the recent restoration/fundraiser and the financial burden of trying to reopen.”
St. Andrews had recently gotten new bathrooms and new carpeting as well as cleaning and building repairs. The managers also started a fundraiser on Facebook on Aug. 27 to keep funding the renovation.
“Soon we’ll have a newly-remodelled lobby to match our 1970’s-time capsule cinema, but we’re needing some help,” the Facebook fundraiser read.
All of the donors and those who helped contribute were planned to be recognized with a plaque at the lobby of the cinema.