Roosevelt Theatre

810 North Leffingwell,
St. Louis, MO 63103

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Roosevelt Theatre

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The Roosevelt Theatre was one of about six neighborhood theatres built for African-American clientele. The theatre opened in 1927 seating 591. A single floor theatre, located in the middle of the block just a half block from busy Franklin Avenue and three blocks from the neighboring Criterion Theatre. The Roosevelt Theatre outlasted the Criterion Theatre by many years.

The front of the theatre was a simple block front with a cream and orange mix in color with a large marquee lined with tons of neon. The theatre closed in 1966 when the neighborhood was slated for redevelopment. Remained a busy theatre until the day it was closed. Admission prices remained the mainstay until the theatre closed. When it closed adults were 75 cents and children were 25 cents.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

JAlex on August 28, 2007 at 10:05 pm

Theatre operated from 1923 to 1966.

Original seating capacity was 646.

Noir on September 28, 2013 at 3:12 pm

What happend to the Pendleton theater, maybe 4264 Finney or 4298 finney?

Douglas, Roosevelt, Critereon, Comet,
Star, Laclede
Bonanza, Auburt, Queens,

Art Theatre/Screening room North Comptan and Olive-seemed to endure because it was 4 blocks south of the starting psuedo Color Line—-Washington Street across the whole length east to West of the City and it was 7 blocks south the the Delmar Color line. It was north of and close to the Stowe—segregated St. Louis black teachers school. Plus it was near St. Louis University

The top were segregated theatres—began that way. Were there only six or many more?

Segregated black theatre in Laclede’s Landing where blacks owned businesses down on the Levee—-after the great fire that gutted the riverfront and part of downtown?

Any additions to:
Chestnut valley?
Mill Creek valley?

How many became theatres de-facto segregated due to who came to the theatre later via closing down of these neighborhood reservation ghettoes and forced push of—-blacks elsewhere. Meaning few to no Caucasian people would come to that neighvorhood or come to that theatre or sit with descendents of slavery. When these theatres did not close on their own city hall had——a “redevelopment” plan to shut them down.

Roosevelt, Criterion and other theaters may be in this group.

What was the tipping point? 10%, 15% or 20%—-for all the other theatre’s whose customer base shifted?

These are entire areas, almost half the City of St. Louis where——the Caucasian population fled and extreme majority has not lived in, invested in, spent much time or stayed til dark and slept overnight in, for 50 to 60 years.

It is easy to make mistakes when people may not have been to that theatre or lived in that areas for——half a century.

Vacant lots and crumbling theatres have a story to tell.


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