St. Charles Theatre
426 St. Charles Avenue,
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The St. Charles Theatre was one of New Orleans' oldest and most storied theatres, first opened on November 30, 1835 (designed by architect A. Mondelli) it was opereated by James Caldwell as a legitimate playhouse. It was said to seat upwards of 4,000 in Neo-Renaissance splendor. It was at the time one of the most extravagant theatres of the South, costing over $300,000 to construct. However, it burned to the ground in 1842.
It was rebuilt just a year later, though smaller and with a simpler facade, it was no less ornate inside, if not more, than its predecessor. It was designed by architect Dr. George King Pratt. The second St. Charles Theatre hosted some of the biggest stage names of the 19th century, including Jenny Lind and Edwin Booth. Ironically, it was also burned to the ground in 1899.
In 1902, architectural firm Favrot & Livaudais designed a third theatre on the site, for the Keith-Orpheum vaudeville circuit, this time called the Orpheum Theatre. When a new Orpheum Theatre was opened in 1924, not far from the old one, the theatre was sold to the Saenger circuit and its old name revived, the St. Charles Theatre, as a movie house with live stage shows.
In 1932, the St. Charles Theatre was remodeled under its new management, and switched over to movies-only. It remained a popular first-and-second run movie house until it was closed in 1965 and razed to make way for a parking lot, ending over a century of theatre history on the site.
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