Gem Theatre

1121 Ward Avenue,
Caruthersville, MO 63830

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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 7 comments)

Bill2
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.

Bill2
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.

bushfaminwa
bushfaminwa on June 26, 2014 at 3:21 am

I actually went to headstart in the building pictured above in 1978. I lived a block behind this building during that time frame so I know for sure it was not being ran as a theatre at that time. It was on the corner of 11th and Ward.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 27, 2014 at 8:39 am

An April 19, 2008, post in the Caruthersville forum at Topix said that the Gem Theatre had been torn down a couple of months earlier.

The Saturday, January 17, 1942, issue of the Blytheville, Arkansas Courier-News said that the Rodgers theater circuit had opened the Gem Theatre in Caruthersville the previous Thursday. It wasn’t clear from the item if the Gem was then new or if it had just been taken over and reopened by Rodgers. The item also said that the opening of the Gem gave Caruthersville four operating theaters, but it only mentioned the Rodgers Theatre and the Stadium Theatre.

The January 2, 1942, issue of The Film Daily also had an item about the Gem:

“A new theater is being erected in Caruthersville, Mo., to be operated by I. W. Rodgers & Co. It will be christened the Gem Theater.”
1942 is the first year the Gem appears in the Film Daily Yearbook. It was also the first year for the Stadium Theatre and for a 286-seat house called the Cozy Theatre, which was listed as closed. The Cozy must have been the fourth theater mentioned in the newspaper item.

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

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