HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
Baldwin Theatre was built in 1891 at 322 St. Louis Avenue, the present site of the McDaniel Building. It was named for a Mr. Baldwin who came to Springfield from Cleveland and started a stove factory. He headed the movement to build a theater in the town and the theater was given his name, even though he no longer had any connection with it by the time it opened. The Baldwin was considered a rival with the Grand Theater at Center and Boonville until the Grand burned in March 1895. After the burning of the Baldwin on January 6, 1909, there was only one "important" theater in Springfield, the Diemer on Commercial Street.
The fire in the Baldwin began in the boiler room of the theater and quickly spread. The Colonial Hotel, located next to the theater, was only mildly damaged because of its fireproof construction. It also stopped the fire from traveling through town. Buildings destroyed by the fire were the Baldwin, Dr. J. H. Nixon's building, photographer A. B. Duncan's building, the restaurant and fruit store of Charles Sansone and the meat market of A. Clas. Three homes at Robberson and Water also burned, but it was not known whether sparks from the Baldwin started that fire.
The Baldwin Theatre was owned by H. B. McDaniel, Frank Fellows, Frank Curran, Arch McGregor and Peter McCourt. It cost $109,000 to build. The theater had been the location of many political gatherings, theatrical performances and benefits. The postcard shows the Baldwin advertising the play "Sherlock Holmes" playing on November 18, 1903. The last performer was popular paperback book writer of the day Opie Read. He performed the evening before the fire.
After the fire, George McDaniel took the four pillars prominent on the front of the theater and placed them on the driveway of his house on South Campbell Road.