Star Theatre

16 South Jefferson Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63103

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The Star Theatre opened in 1922 as part of the Komm Theatre chain and seated 866. A two story theatre on the outskirts of downtown St. Louis. 344 of the theatres seats were in the balcony with the balance on the main level. The Star had a black with burgandy streaked marble facade with a large marquee. The verticle sign had no lettering just a huge flashing gold neon star. The three sided marquee came all the way to the curb and the larger tractor trailers were always bashing into the front part of the marquee. The neon on the front side seldom worked because it was always getting torn off.

The inside of the auditorium walls had two large star shaped light fixtures on the side walls that would dim when the features started. One of the few theatres that had curtains that raised up instead of opening from the middle to the sides. The theatre was closed in 1959 when the area was redeveloped for a large hotel.

The Star theatre was a move over house for both the Loew’s State and Loew’s Orpheum theatres downtown. When the features were done at the Loew’s they moved to the Star.

Contributed by Charles Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 2 comments)

JAlex
JAlex on June 14, 2006 at 5:35 pm

Years of operation were 1918 to 1959.

An operation of Chris, then Peter Efthin.

Seating capacity was 521.

One of the theatres for Black audiences.

Noir
Noir on October 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Was the segregated London half a block from the Star Theater?

I pass these comments along.

“The London Theater was over that way. They didn’t have a toilet……—so we called it the Funky London.”

“Now on Jefferson, about half a block down, was the Star Theater. That was an upright, clean theater. They had a toilet. And most of the people who wanted to be dignified would go there. It cost about 15 cents.

But they had cowboys at the Funky London, seven days a week. I’d look both ways to see if anybody I knew was lookin’, then rush in. It cost a nickel.”

“This Irish restaurant, Maggie O’Brien’s, was The Strand Theater. And Blue Moon Restaurant was at
22 ½ S. Beaumont. It was a tavern, so I never went in there.

I couldn’t afford the Deluxe Restaurant, either—that was comparable to the finest restaurant today. Even the black movie stars were segregated back then, and when they came to St. Louis, that’s the only restaurant(segregated) they ate at. Joe Louis, Cab Calloway, Count Basie…”

Mill Creek Valley Born in 1934, John Curtis grew up in Mill Creek Valley, the historically black neighborhood that had produced Josephine Baker 28 years earlier. By 1959, the entire neighborhood had been wiped out, its shops, theaters, and nightclubs replaced with bland businesses.

I lived in Mill Creek Valley all my young life. My grandfather, A.W. Curtis, had a big church, The Church of God in Christ, and a grocery store, Curtis Confectionery, at 2714 Clark. It was for black people—90 percent of the black people went to black stores.”

Mill Creek Valley was blighted in early ’50s. Most people went north, where I stay. — As told to J.C.” From Vanished Neighborhoods…..from STLM Nov 2010 Jeannette Cooper

Being black,DOS(Descendent of Slavery) racial segregated, financially segregated, kept to 1/50 of financial assets back then, (1/20 to 1/30 now in 2013), far less financial income, limited where you work, live, buy, type of education, voting, what you eat and who you could marry(no interracial marriage) or marrying into the vast majority of familes with ownership resources really defines how “dignified” your life is in comparison to the average movie go-er.

Politically and legally they had no power to save their community or in some cases theaters forced to close. It all even impacted if————all theaters had a bathroom. It takes money to do most things, even go to the movies. Notice the theater with a bathroom cost triple the price. How did these prices compare with the general society in 1940’s?

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