Remembering Glenwood

Glenwood Theatre, ca. 1968. Source: JoCo Museum.

Glenwood Theatre, ca. 1968. Source: JoCo Museum.

I always felt a sense of anticipation and excitement walking through the rectangular parking lot, over the gravel-filled medians into the Glenwood movie theater. Not only was I being transported to whatever fantasy world the movie created, I was also entering a forgotten and foreign world. The Glenwood had style: It featured a fire place and an indoor fountain, like those found outside at the Plaza. A vaulted ceiling with cathedral-esque windows allowed waves of golden sunlight to fill the lobby. And best yet, the actual theater might have been the biggest single room I had ever seen. Imagine that brief moment when the green preview shot would appear as a wobbly specter as the gigantic curtains parted way to reveal the majestic screen!

Glenwood Theatre, 1966 ca. Source:

Glenwood Theatre, 1966 ca. Source:

At the tender age of five in the year 1983, when we found movie times in the newspaper and had to wait in line to get tickets to a highly-anticipated blockbuster, my parents took my brother and I to see Superman III. You didn’t see a movie at the Glenwood: You experienced it. My personal list includes: Dune (1984, yes I saw Dune at the age of 6), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985), and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), Mosquito Coast (1986), Raising Arizona (1987), Tim Burton’s Batman (1989, opening day), Independence Day (1996), Batman and Robin (1997, Yuck!), and Contact (1997). Basically, the formative years of my movie watching developed at the Glenwood Theater.

The Glenwood (lower left) at Glenwood Manor Motor Hotel. Source:

The Glenwood (lower left) at Glenwood Manor Motor Hotel. Source:

The last movie I saw at the Glenwood was Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in the summer of 1999. There was so much excitement and I was so eager to return to my childhood years of wonder. Sadly, not only was that movie terrible (even though I saw it four times) but the theater itself closed a year later. I couldn’t help but feel as though those two events were inextricable, as if the movie gods said, “Try as you might, those halcyon days will never return. But you’ll always have the ticket stubs.”

Learn more about the Glenwood and nation-wide cinema treasures:

-Scott Stone, Johnson County Library



Filed under Business, Research

2 responses to “Remembering Glenwood

  1. My favorite memory of the Glenwood is seeing all four Beatles films back to back with my best friend in high school. We didn’t get out til after midnight! A Hard Day’s Night, Help, Yellow Submarine, and the rooftop concert. They did this two years in a row.

  2. Amanda H.

    Great article, Scott! Amanda from Leawood here. I wholeheartedly agree that the Glenwood was special. Did you ever visit the new Glenwood at Metcalf South? I went once to see Brokeback Mountain in 2005, and I think they kept the red seats and curtain (along with the sign) but it wasn’t quite that sense of childhood wonder with the fountain and the rock wall. I always thought the old Glenwood was like a magical cave. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! :)

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