Pickwick Theatre

2621 Washington Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63103

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The Pickwick Theatre was opened May 13, 1880 with a production of “Bells of Corneville” by the National English Opera Company. It was designed by the Boston based architectural firm Peabody & Stearns with 800 seats and the auditorium was located on the second floor of the building. It was briefly renamed Star Theatre and went over to presenting vaudeville (with movies?) and closed in 1904. In 1906 became a warehouse for the St. Louis Brass Company.

The October 27, 1890 issue of the Elkhart Daily Review reported “the most exciting event in the history of the Pickwick Theatre.” Apparently, there was a public seance, led my multiple “noted mediums.” Nearly 1,000 people attended the event. They called up a volunteer from the audience and asked them to tie up one of the mediums, “Professor” Johnson, “17 different ways” with a piece of rope. The idea was the spirits would untie the ropes for Johnson for everyone to see. Instead, the volunteer tied up the medium up in such a way it caused Johnson to collapse. The volunteer then walked to the edge of the stage and admitted to the audience that he was actually a slight of hand performer hired by Johnson to be a plant in the audience. The audience quickly became enraged and turned into an angry mob, even attempting to lynch the one of the organizers with the rope. The police arrived just in time, saving the man. The two supposed “mediums” apparently got away in the commotion.

Contributed by Holly Westerfield

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

Trolleyguy
Trolleyguy on May 4, 2018 at 9:17 am

Did this theatre ever show movies?

JAlex
JAlex on May 4, 2018 at 11:47 am

Charles Crawford, one of the sons of Lester Crawford, leased the theatre in 1904 and embarked on a policy of stock, then vaudeville. Apparently unsuccessful, ads for the theatre ceased at the end of the year. Crawford had renamed the theatre STAR (not to be confused with the STAR at 14 S. Jefferson).

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