New Merry Widow Theatre

1739 Chouteau Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63104

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New Merry Widow Theatre

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Another single floor theatre operated by the Komm Theatres, seated 711, It opened in 1937 as the Merry Widow but due to a fire in 1947 the theatre was gutted, rebuilt and reopened as the New Merry Widow with a seating capacity of 920.

The Merry Widow had a nice lobby with terazzo floors and a small concession stand in the southeast corner of the lobby. Three aisles into the auditorium one along each wall and one down the middle. Two small chandeliers in the auditorium. Draped walls lined the auditorium and covered the screen.

The Merry Widow was not one of the busiest theatres for the Komm Circuit as it was right on the outskirts of downtown and a lot of industrial was around the theatre. It had to rely on the housing developemnts just to the south of the theatre.

The Merry Widow closed as a movie theatre in 1955 and a year later became a auto repair shop.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 15 comments)

JAlex
JAlex on November 7, 2005 at 7:36 am

Theatre closed in May, 1956. Structure opened for business in March, 1942 and was called the New Merry Widow as it replaced the (Old) Merry Widow in the 1400-block of Chouteau.

Address of New Merry Widow was 1739 Chouteau. The architect was Jack Shawcross.

In newspaper ads it was called the New Merry Widow until 1951 when the “New” was dropped.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 31, 2010 at 10:53 am

The Merry Widow Theatre occupied four different locations over the years, according to an article in Boxoffice of August 7, 1943. The first was a 99-seat nickelodeon opened in 1906 by George and Harry Hayes. It was at the corner of Chouteau Avenue and Dillon Street (the exact location is from a later Boxoffice item.) The Hayeses later moved the theater to a 250-seat location down the block. At an unspecified date, a new operator, John P. Murphy, opened the third Merry Widow, now with 485 seats, at 1435 Chouteau Avenue.

Sam Komm opened the New Merry Widow Theatre on March 21, 1942, reported in Boxoffice of March 28 that year. He had taken over the third Merry Widow a few months earlier.

The name of the theater was the result of a contest held by George and Harry Hayes in 1906, and was the submission of nine-year-old Lester Bona, who went on to become a film distributor.

I’ve been unable to find anything in Boxoffice about the 1947 fire. It isn’t mentioned in this web log post about the Merry Widow, either.

ThomasRossi007
ThomasRossi007 on January 31, 2010 at 12:31 pm

Mr. Vogel,

How do you access multiple issues of Boxoffice on issuu.com ?
When I search for Boxoffice, it only shows three pages of issues, but I notice in your postings you somehow can access many, many more issues such as the one with the former Route 4 Paramus, NJ theater. Issuu does not have a contact field for me to ask this question.

Thanks Very Much.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 31, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I use Google’s advanced search page, putting the name Boxoffice in the top field, following a specific word (one word of a theatre name, a city name, a person’s or a company’s name, etc); a multi-word phrase in the second field; and the domain issuu.com in the bottom field.

So, searching this theater for example, I used[quote]louis boxoffice
new merry widow
issuu.com[/quote]in the respective fields. Searching a theater with a more common name it’s better to put both name and location in the exact wording field thus: strand boston (or strand at boston; strand theatre boston; boston strand, etc.) Keep the theater name (or other term) ahead of the name Boxoffice in the first field, too, as Issuu’s internal search will fetch pages with instances of the first word of a field only, and the name Boxoffice appears on virtually every page of each issue of the magazine.

Once you fetch an issue of the magazine at Issuu, single words entered into the site’s search box will find the individual pages on which that word appears, but it won’t find a word that’s been spilt with a hyphen onto two lines of an article. It will find only the halves. It’s not case-sensitive, though, so don’t worry about capitalizing.

You can also find a specific issue of the magazine at Issuu by entering its date in Google’s exact phrase field, as: August 07 1943.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on March 18, 2010 at 7:53 pm

What a strange name.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on May 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I left Columbia 1 and 2 in NOV.1980.I left Georgia Square Cinemas I II III &IV on DEC 1983,dowdeyla, most theatre folks remember stuff like that.OF course you wrote this 2005,so i am probably writing to myself.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm

There have been a couple of comments remarking on the theater’s name, so it might be useful to note that Franz Lehár’s operetta “The Merry Widow” had its premier in Vienna in 1905, the year before this theater’s forerunner was opened. The composer’s “Merry Widow Waltz” became one of the most popular songs of the period, so the name would have been familiar even to people who had never seen the operetta.

TLSLOEWS
TLSLOEWS on July 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Thanks Joe,it sounded like to me the the widow was glad her husband died.But there is always a story behind the names,thanks again.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on September 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Further to Joe Vogel’s comments, the musical show “The Merry Widow” was a huge international mega-hit. It played in London at Daly’s Theatre (site of the West End Vue cinema) and in New York at the New Amsterdam Theater on W. 42nd Street when that house was still new. It’s still performed today by various opera companies and is available on CD and on DVD.

spectrum
spectrum on November 27, 2010 at 11:19 am

From the 2010 google aeriel views it is still standing. Bricked up in front except for a single door. No clue what’s inside, the the front is still in decent shape.

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