New Criterion Theatre

2644 Dr Martin Luther King Drive,
St. Louis, MO 63106

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New Criterion Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Criterion Theatre was opened by July 1910 and was owned by a Greek family. It was located in a part of St. Louis that was heavily populated with African-Americans. It was remodelled in 1938 to the plans of architect O.W. Stiegemeyer. It made headlines in 1939 when it was picketed by the Colored Cashier' Society. They wanted better employment opportunities. The theatre survived until 1966, when it closed as a movie theatre.

For some time a church occupied the building. Eventually it was boarded up and became a dilapidated structure. Vandalism plagued the building until a police substation was built across the street. It was still in the best shape of any of the old North St. Louis Negro theatres, but was demolished prior to 2007.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

plasticfootball on March 13, 2008 at 9:32 am

While there was some talk of turning the Criterion into an African-American history museum—even after a whole corner of the auditorium crumbled—the project was abandoned and the theater was demolished. The Criterion’s vertical sign, with its streamlined lettering, was one of the most beautiful in town.

patrickgenna on June 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm

The Criterion at Jefferson(?) reminds me of the now-demolished Regal Theatre up the street near Grand when the city had it knocked down sometime in 2006-7. I took pictures of it; inside and out..though it would have been dangerous to step inside it. It had this huge gaping hole in the side wall. It was horrible to see this bit of history lesson that nothing last forever. I am also asking if anyone know where the Comet Theatre is in location to the Criterion. I am confused about these two theatres. Patrick

patrickgenna on June 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I am sorry. I am in error. Is it the Comet Theatre at Jefferson that I have confused with the Criterion? Patrick

patrickgenna on June 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Thank u Chuck1231
Chuck, I am not sure that the Comet was at Sarah and Vandeventer? Patrick

patrickgenna on August 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Thank u Chuck1231.

I have copied the image of the Criterion to my Pictures folder.

I must admit that if there was ever a cluster of theatres that confused me, it was this one. The Comet and Criterion, I had actually seen; including the demolished Regal Theatre.
The Roosevelt and the Douglas, I have not and there are a few more that have not been covered as the Beaumont Theatre which I am not sure ever existed as claimed by an African American woman I had met at a meeting at Catholic Charities in 2006 who said she saw movies there. Does anyone know if there was a Beaumont Theatre? – Patrick

Pnogar on September 26, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I remember going to the Marquette Theatre in the 50’s and 60’s. It was located on Franklin Avenue near Carr Square Village. We spent many a Sunday afternoon there after church and supper. In those days movies ran continuously so we would arrive at any point during the movie then stay through the next run. I can still hear my sister saying “okay, this is where we came in – are you ready to go?” I don’t know when the Marquette closed. On rare occasions, we went to the Criterion but it was a longer walk and in those days, we stayed close to home.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on March 18, 2016 at 3:30 am

The Criterion Theatre in St. Louis was being remodeled, with plans by architect O. W. Stiegemeyer, according to the September 17, 1938, issue of Motion Picture Herald.

JAlex on March 18, 2016 at 8:40 am

Structure is demolished.

dsedman on March 2, 2017 at 2:50 am

Ads begin in July of 1910 and structure was a converted storage facility named the Louisiana Storage Company operating from 1901 to 1909.

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