New Criterion Theatre

2644 Franklin Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63108

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New Criterion Theatre

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The Criterion Theatre was opened in 1919 and was owned by Greek Family. It was located in a part of St. Louis that was heavily populated with African-Americans. 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 dilappidated structure. Vandalism plagued the building until a police substation was built across the street. It is still in the best shape of any of the old North St. Louis Negro theatres.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 7 comments)

plasticfootball
plasticfootball on March 13, 2008 at 12:32 pm

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.

JAlex
JAlex on October 28, 2008 at 11:39 am

The first ad for the theatre was published in 1917; the last ad appeared in 1966…a bit different from the original description.

patrickgenna
patrickgenna on June 17, 2011 at 10:57 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
patrickgenna on June 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm

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

patrickgenna
patrickgenna on June 20, 2011 at 7:41 pm

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

patrickgenna
patrickgenna on August 7, 2011 at 8:02 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
Pnogar on September 26, 2011 at 10:35 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.

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