Comments from RetroMike

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RetroMike commented about Star Theater on Jun 23, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Chuck, sadly the Press-Record as you probably remember it is gone. The Suburban Journals of St. Louis now use the name Granite City Press Record Journal, but it’s a mere shadow of the original. I wonder how old Mickey is and if he is still in the newspaper business?

On another subject, you seem to have so much knowledge on the local movie theatre’s. I am not sure if you are from Granite City but I would love to have you join my Facebook page about “Granite City Movie Theatres and other Memories”. Even if you are not from GC, I think you would enjoy it and it would be great to have your input when you find the time.

Granite City Movie Theatres and other Memories

RetroMike commented about Star Theater on Jun 23, 2011 at 1:45 am

Originally called the “Grand” and then the “Princess” and then the “Rialto” before it was renamed the “City” in 1948, this theatre spent quite a few years as a church before reverting back to a movie house for the final time. Its final incarnation, as the “Star”, came in the 1980’s, but it wasn’t long before the wrecking ball came calling. The site is now a parking lot. The Rialto opened on Saturday September 27, 1919. It was under the ownership of Alfred S. Cote. The Rialto opened with the Hall Caine special feature “The Woman Thou Gavest Me,” together with a new Fatty Arbuckle comedy entitled “Back Stage.” The theater was previously called “The Princess”, under the management of P.F. Lowry of Salem IL. When the building was first built, the theatre was known as the “Grand” under the management of Mrs. F.J. Guth. The opening program was “The Thoroughbred” and a Keystone comedy featuring Sid Chaplin on Saturday March 11, 1916.

Previous names should be updated on this page as follows: 1. Grand 2. Princess 3. Rialto 4. City

RetroMike commented about Washington Theatre on Jun 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Chuck, back in 2004 you posted a comment about some pictures of the theatre of the front and the lobby that you took. Can you please post these?

RetroMike commented about Washington Theatre on Jun 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

The address of the original Washington Theatre was 1332 19th St., and in later years after a rebuild it was moved to a different lot on the same block and the address was 1346. If you click on the photo’s tab you can see another picture that I posted of the theatre in it’s final location. The default picture for the overview page just happens to be the picture that is viewed the most times from the “photo” page.

RetroMike commented about Washington Theatre on Jun 14, 2011 at 11:24 pm

In the 3rd quarter of 1910, construction began on the Washington Theatre. This was announced in a July, 1910 article from the local newspaper the “Granite City Press Record.”

Initially, there were plans to build a 3 story brick building at the intersection of Cleveland, 19th and “B” streets in Granite City as announced by the architect, G.Y. Murphy. This building would include the theatre, a hotel and business rooms. The plan never materialized but instead another development from Henry C. Buchterkerchen who was a Staunton, IL native was erected at 19th & “E” St.

The building contract was awarded to M.L. Denham and Co. of St. Louis Mo. and would be a two story brick building. The theatre was to be located on the alley between State St. and “E” Street, which was later known as Edison St., on the south side of 19th.

It was leased to L. Landau Jr. of St. Louis Mo. who was secretary and treasurer of a large vaudeville circuit and the president of the Columbia Amusement Company. The theatre was built primarily for motion picture and vaudeville use but also for conventions and other public meetings.

The original plans for the theatre were to include a seating capacity of 800 on the ground level and also include a large balcony. The building was to be 50X100 feet and have a 25 foot stage.

When the theatre opened on Saturday December 10, 1910, it was managed by C.H Dodge. Admission was ten cents for each seat and the program would change three times every week. The schedule would be Saturday-Sunday-Monday and Tuesday with new programs starting on Wednesday and again on Friday.

In February of 1911, Washington Theatre manager C.H. Dodge announced the planning of a “Summer Garden” at an expense of $4,000 to be constructed and opened on or about May 1, 1911 with a capacity of 1,200. The outdoor stage was 40 by 60 feet.

In June of 1911, plans were announced to enlarge the Washington theatre per the architect Charles Pauly & Sons. The plan calls for adding 500 seats increasing the theatre capacity to 1,300 seats. The rear wall was torn out and the orchestra pit set back to make room for the additional seats. The new stage was to be 50 feet wide by 30 feet deep and 30 feet high and would then be larger than the stage outside in the Airdome (Garden).

By 1914, the theatre manager was J.T. Gray.

RetroMike commented about Granite City Cinema on Jun 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

The theatre officially opened on August 20, 2010 and not August 18 as mentioned above.

RetroMike commented about Lafayette Theatre on Jun 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Here is a link to my blog about St.Louis area movie theater history. The article can be found on the St.Louis theater tab and you can click on the article to enlarge.

Per that article, some of the information on this site can be updated. Seating capacity was 850 (which included 100 in the balcony). The building was erected by Independent Amusement Company and it was the first theater built especially for motion pictures and light vaudeville in St.Louis opening in 1910. Also was the first theater built in St.Louis primarily for motion pictures.

Joe, I agree with your “hunch” about the sloppy handwriting. The “W” might have looked like an “S” and “t” and the “T” at the end of Wuest might have looked more like an “a” and “l”.

Plus the article that I linked up above clearly states that the architect was Gustav P. Wuest and so the other name should be omitted.

RetroMike commented about Melvin Theatre on Jun 3, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I hope everyone enjoys the recent photo of the Melvin that I have added to this page. As you can see the old place still carries it’s charm.

RetroMike commented about Grand Theatre on May 12, 2011 at 1:15 am

I have added so much more to my blog about the Varieties/Grand Opera house including original articles from its opening night way back on May 10, 1852!!!

Just click on the above link.

By the way the first show to play at the theater was “The Good for Nothing”.

RetroMike commented about Grand Theatre on May 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm

1910 article from the St. Louis Globe Democrat about the rebuilding of the Grand Opera House. Also a photo of the theater.

View link

RetroMike commented about Plaza Theatre on May 10, 2011 at 1:58 am

Article from the St. Louis Globe Democrat from January 30, 1910 showing how the new theater at the northeast corner of Etzel and Clara Avenue will look. Widmann & Walsh are the architects of the building. It is to be constructed wholly of brick, steel and cut stone. The interior lobby will be heart shaped because of the peculiarly shaped lot, measuring 12x30 feet. The Plaza Realty Amusement Company will build and operate the theater and is planned to open shortly after June 1, 1910. Joseph Townsend will manage the property. Planned capacity for the theater will be 700.

View link

RetroMike commented about Lafayette Theatre on May 7, 2011 at 1:27 am

Theatre opened in 1910 and per St. Louis Globe Democrat article from January of 1910 the architect was Gustav P. Wuest.

RetroMike commented about Avenue Theatre on Aug 4, 2010 at 3:29 am

No, it gives the phone number Bell East 2646 and one of the ads states the following. Re-opens Sunday March 15. Aveneau Theatre E. St. Louis IL.

RetroMike commented about Avenue Theatre on Aug 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Thanks Chuck, this Aveneau Theatre must have been a different building, and also carried with it a different spelling.

RetroMike commented about Avenue Theatre on Aug 3, 2010 at 5:47 pm

I have some newspaper ads for the Aveneau Theatre from 1907, would this be the same theatre?

RetroMike commented about Broadway Theatre on Aug 3, 2010 at 5:44 pm

I have ads for the Broadway Theatre from March and April of 1908 if anyone would like to see them.

RetroMike commented about Nameoki Twin on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:43 am

The new building that was constructed upon the demolition of the Nameoki Twin Cinema was an Applebee’s restaurant.

RetroMike commented about Ken Theater on Jul 28, 2010 at 12:40 am

After it became the Rose Bowl, it was sold and then burned down. Later another restaurant was built by the new owner and it was known as Charly’s.

RetroMike commented about Sun Theater on Jul 10, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I drove by the Sun last night and the marquee was lit. I took pictures if anyone is interested.

RetroMike commented about Nameoki Twin on May 31, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Christopher Walczak has his information wrong. The Nameoki Cinema opened as a “Twin Cinema” on Friday July 27th, 1973. The opening program was “Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid” and “Class of ‘44”. When the Cinema opened up there were plans to expand it to four screens the following year but this never happened. The cinema was under the management of the Mid-America Theatres chain. When the theatre closed for the final time it was demolished for the sake of a new shopping strip mall. There is a bar/tavern close by and there is a Rent-to-own business in another building that sat behind the theatre. However for the sake of history let it be known that this building was born a cinema and it died a cinema and never housed anything else.