The sound and projection systems were state of the art. But nearly everything else about the Glenwood Arts Theatre smacked of yesterday.
From the retro, Space Age sign along 95th Street to the buzzing neon tubes in the lobby and the cursive lettering spelling out “Confections” on the wall above the concession counter, the moviegoing experience was nothing like your modern megaplex.
It was cozy and 1960s kitsch with a capital “K.”
“It’s small, it’s quaint — it’s a wonderful, wonderful theater,” Jane Coffyn said Sunday as she and 300 others filed in for the next-to-last showing of that day’s feature.
Appropriately enough, it was a comedic homage to the dead mall to which the Glenwood Arts was attached. The film “Metcalf South Memories” had three showings on the theater’s last day, two of them sold out and one nearly so.
Before each of them, co-owner Brian Mossman stood at the front of the main auditorium and asked for a show of hands.
Who was there to see the film because of fond memories of the mall, which is being redeveloped? And who came to say goodbye to the Glenwood Arts?
For many, like Ron and Susan Zils of Overland Park, it was a little of both.
They first met 40 years ago when both worked at the Jones Store at Metcalf South, back when Jones and Sears were the two department store anchors at what was then one of the Kansas City area’s busiest shopping destinations.
Ten years later, they married, said Susan, whose resume also includes a stint working at the theater complex that would later become the Glenwood Arts.
“Spent a lot of time in that box office,” she said.
That box office and just about everything else changed after the Fine Arts Theatre Group took over the former Metcalf Theatre in the early 2000s.
The group transformed what was then a ragged, struggling dollar house into a spiffed-up presenter of first-run foreign, art and independent films. It went from two screens to three.
The sign along 95th and many of the trappings inside the Glenwood Arts’ lobby were salvaged from the Glenwood Theatre, which sat for decades a few blocks away at the corner of 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue.
From the old Glenwood, “we got that counter,” Mossman said as he pointed around the lobby. “The box office, their fireplace is over there and whatever that thing on the wall is.”
That “thing” on the wall was the crest that once greeted moviegoers in the old Glenwood lobby until that theater was torn down to make way for a shopping center.
It has been on the wall of its current home since the Glenwood Arts opened in late 2002
The crest, the neon, the curved rows of red cloth seats and all the other furnishings and wall hangings will be packed into semitrailers and hauled off for storage.
Those pieces may or may not find their way into yet another movie house, if and when Mossman and his partners get around to finishing one of their other theater renovation projects.
Previous ones include the Rio in Overland Park and the Englewood in Independence.
Yet another is the Leawood, just to the east of Metcalf South at 95th and Mission Road. Until now, it has run regular Hollywood movie fare. But from here on, Mossman said, the Leawood will get a brand makeover. It will have the same name and focus as the Glenwood Arts did up until Sunday night.
“It’s always sad to close down a theater and move,” Mossman said. But the bright spot is that the new Glenwood Arts will have five screens and 1,150 seats, compared with three screens and 450 seats at the now former location.
As for the iconic sign, it’s not making the trip.
“We’re not sure where it’s going to go,” Mossman said.