Gem Theatre

1121 Ward Avenue,
Caruthersville, MO 63830

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Viewing: Photo | Street View

I wasn’t able to get much information on this theatre other than it seated 516, opened in in 1936 and closed sometime in the 1950’s. It has a white brick front and the white bricks stretch down the sides about 20 feet and then turn to red brick. It has a small V shaped marquee. The box office was in the middle with a set of doors to each side. When looking in the lobby was completely gutted.

Contributed by Chuck Van Bibber

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Bill2 on December 12, 2004 at 5:02 am

I lived in Caruthersville, during the 80’s and early 90’s. The GEM was open then. It showed 2nd run movies. The seats were red and rocked. It closed sometime in the 90’s not the 50’s. It was not white brick. The one just up the street is probably the one you are referring to. IT was called the Stadium, I think. The GEM had been a grocery store before becoming a theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on September 6, 2005 at 9:21 pm

This is a 1957 photo of the Gem Theater in Caruthersville.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on July 22, 2008 at 2:49 am

Here is a photo of the Gem Theater taken in the late 1990s.

Bill2 on June 18, 2011 at 2:29 am

Caruthersville at one time had 3 operating theaters. The Rodgers on 3rd st, the Stadium and Gem on Ward Ave. Both Stadium and Gem were in the same block. All gone now. Stadium is still standing but is now a woodworking shop.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm

From the 1990s photo of the Gem linked by lostmemory, it is clear that the red brick sidewalls of the theater building were much older than the white brick front. Its possible that the 1936 opening date for the Gem was actually a reopening of a remodeled and perhaps renamed theater.

It’s also possible that the Gem was the theater mentioned in the May 20, 1916, issue of The American Contractor:

“Caruthersville, Mo.—Theater & Airdome: $10,000. 2 sty. 80x140. Archt. M. E. Worcester, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Owner Caruthersville Amusement Co., care archt. Plans ready for bids.”
. The Gem appears to be about 40 feet wide, and the airdome could have been on the adjacent parcel where a smaller building shows in the 1990s photo. However, various issues of The Moving Picture World from 1918 name three movie theaters then operating in Caruthers; the Exchange, the Dixie, and the Liberty. Any of these might have been the 1916 project, but any of them might also have been the Gem under an earlier name.

Architect M. E. Worcester also designed a theater in Cape Girardeau in 1916, though I’ve been unable to track down its name or discover if the project was ever carried out.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 20, 2012 at 11:47 pm

Comparing vintage photos of the Gem linked earlier, and from Bill2’s statement that the Stadium Theatre is now a woodworking shop, it’s clear that the two photos uploaded by Norman Plant depict the Stadium Theatre, not the Gem. The Stadium is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures.

Norman Plant
Norman Plant on December 21, 2012 at 12:15 am

Joe, I believe you are correct. When the Stadium is included on CT I will link the photos to the proper theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2012 at 1:05 am

Street View will have to be corrected as well. It is currently pointed at the Stadium Theatre’s building. The Gem was at the opposite end of the block, on the corner of 12th Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 21, 2012 at 1:09 am

The address of Custom Oak, the cabinet shop that now occupies the Stadium Theatre’s building, is 1101 Ward Avenue. It was at the opposite end of the block from the Gem.

Unfortunately, the Gem Theatre has been demolished, apparently in 2008. In Google Street View’s current photo, which is dated March, 2008, the Gem is the pile of rubble on the northeast corner of Ward Avenue and East 12th Street.

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