Columbia Theater

5257 Southwest Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63139

Unfavorite 1 person favorited this theater

Showing 16 comments

MitchWolf on September 14, 2018 at 8:11 pm

Here’s an article about the transformation of the Columbia into a private residence. Plus the reason why it closed for good.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 15, 2017 at 3:00 pm

This item from the July 4, 1925, issue of Motion Picture News might be about the Columbia Theatre, though the location gives a street name that doesn’t exist now:

“George Skouras has had plans prepared by Preston J. Bradshaw, architect, International Life Building, for a $100,000 motion picture theatre building at Southwest and Midwest avenues, St. Louis.”

JAlex on June 3, 2017 at 10:01 am

Opening year should be 1926, not 1916. The building permit for the structure was issued in August 1925 and theatre opened for business on February 1, 1926. The architect of the original structure was Preston Bradshaw.

jgrebe on October 22, 2016 at 9:47 am

The Columbia is now a private residence , the roof over the auditorium removed, swimming pool installed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

The impression I got from the item was that it was an entirely new theater in 1916. This is what it said:

“The New Columbia Opens.

St. Louis, Mo.—The Columbia, a new theater in the Clifton Heights district of St. Louis, opened recently with an all-picture program, and with an admission price of five cents during the week and ten cents on Saturday and Sunday, when special features are shown.“

Is it possible that the operators of the Columbia Airdome built an enclosed theater on their property in 1916?

JAlex on June 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I think the Columbia Theatre mentioned in the 1916 Motion Picture World was the Columbia Airdome located at 6230 Columbia. My research shows this operating from 1914 to 1917.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

There is an item in the July 15, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World which says that the Columbia Theatre in the Clifton Heights district of St. Louis had opened recently. The theater operated on a pictures-only policy, with admission charges of five cents on weekdays and ten cents on Saturday and Sunday.

Clifton Heights is immediately adjacent to the neighborhood now called The Hill, and I think that this theater is most likely the same Columbia Theatre opened in 1916. The style of the building with its classical pediment and cornice is characteristic of the later 1910s.

The earlier Columbia Theatre at 6th and St. Charles Streets downtown was in operation at the same time as the Columbia Theatre in Clifton Heights. While the downtown Columbia was primarily a vaudeville house, it was equipped to show movies. an item in the July 8, 1916,issue of The Moving Picture World says that the downtown Columbia would be showing movies made by the Triangle studio, which had previously been exhibited at the American Theatre. The American, owned by the same company as the Columbia, was being closed for the summer.

Friardb on August 3, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I remember seeing a doubble feature posiedon adventure and ledgon of hell house. dont see those any more

Yves Marchand
Yves Marchand on June 3, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Take a look at the bird’s eye view and see how unusually the auditorium has been transformed :

JAlex on May 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm

George Jones: The Columbia Theatre Houdini appeared at was at 6th & St. Charles downtown. This major vaudeville house closed in mid-1925. The Columbia on Southwest opened in early 1926.

gmanstl on January 1, 2009 at 11:32 am

Where was The Columbia Theater located in 1908?

1926 The great Harry Houdini died at the age of 52. Houdini introduced his famous“Milk Can Escape” at the Columbia Theater in St. Louis on January 27, 1908. The handcuffed magician escaped from a padlocked over sized milk can filled with water. In 1922, He escaped from the best straitjacket in the St. Louis Police Homicide
Department’s wardrobe—while suspended from the 5th floor of city hall.

View link

JamesGrebe on March 2, 2005 at 1:03 pm

It has been rightly pointed out to me that there was indeed a 2m/11r Kilgen organ in the Columbia Theatre. The problem was it was not this Columbia but an earlier one that was located at 6th and St. Charles. It was installed in 1919. The Columbia on Southwest only dates back to around 1925.

JamesGrebe on February 21, 2005 at 5:20 pm

There was A KIlgen Theatre Pipe Organ installed in the Columbia in the 1920’s Whereabouts unknown

ChuckVanBibber on October 7, 2003 at 12:38 pm

The Columbia was located at the wedge of Southwest and Columbia Blvds. The address was 5257 Southwest. This was originall part of the Franchon & Marco Chain which later became ST. Louis Amusement Co./Arthur Theatres. Originally the Columbia had an ice cream parlor in its lobby along with the concession stand. Like most Arthur Theatres this was a very clean and well maintained theatre. Theatre seated 843 on a single floor.

JAlex on January 22, 2002 at 8:54 am

Theatre is no longer a health club. Facility was bought by an artist and is now his residence. Stage area is now the living quarters, auditorium area had roof removed and is now a courtyard.