Granada Theatre

4519 Gravois Avenue,
St. Louis, MO 63116

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Reilly
Reilly on September 24, 2017 at 12:42 pm

I grew up going to the Granada. My siblings and I went there a lot. My grandfather, Charles Reilly, was the stagehand at the Granada, probably since it first opened. My Dad told me that they didn’t suffer too much due to the depression because folks could always scrounge up a nickle or dime to go to the movies to forget their troubles, so Grandpa always had a job. There were quite a few photos of him taken by the Post-Dispatch or the Globe-Democrat over the years. Usually of him up on a high ladder changing the marquee outside – sometimes during a blizzard. (the show must go on, you know!) He did most everything behind the curtain you can think of – he could fix or build anything. Speaking of the curtain, sometimes he let us go with him backstage before anyone would be in the house before a movie. It was so different, it was not as magical as the front of the house. Stacked lumber, ropes controlling the curtains, tool boxes, movie sign boards either coming from or going to the lobby, boxes of large light bulbs, and so much other stuff. He wore a suit, tie, and fedora to work everyday and would take off his suit coat and put on a pair of overalls to wear while working. Pretty dapper, overalls, long sleeve shirt, and tie. He worked there until they said he had to retire because he turned 65. He found out they hired two guys to take his place. I guess I had a magical childhood, one grandpa worked at the Granada, so we saw all the kid movies and the other delivered ice cream for Meadow Gold Dairy, we always got samples of the new ice cream treats. What more could a kid ask for? The Granada was beautiful and I will always remember it. I’m sorry to hear it’s been torn down. I haven’t lived in St. Louis for 50 years, so much has changed…and not always for the good.

localarchivstSTL
localarchivstSTL on September 2, 2017 at 10:09 pm

If anyone is interested in checking out photos of the salvage process, Larry Giles of the National Building Arts Center has uploaded them onto his new website here:

http://web.nationalbuildingarts.org/recovery-projects/granada-theatre/

JAlex
JAlex on March 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

The description says “it mostly ran first-run movies.” It was not until 1968 the Granada had a f-r film, and that was a multiple-theatre run. The Granada was a second-run house until that time. An exceptional house, to be sure, when first opened it was the equivalent of a “try-out” house with successful stage acts moving down to the Skouras Brothers' prime house, the Ambassador.

jgrebe
jgrebe on October 22, 2016 at 9:53 am

As the Granada was being tore down I spent several weeks taking snapshots of the progress. I rescued the Aisle 3 Plexiglas sign from inside the theatre. During the 1980’s the STLTOS had plans of installing a theatre pipe organ in the chambers that had never been occupied. On the stage there was still a Shulz grand piano on its side.

rivest266
rivest266 on February 20, 2016 at 11:19 pm

September 29th, 1927 grand opening ad in photo section.

Stephenvb
Stephenvb on November 25, 2013 at 3:27 am

This is a dedication to our loving father whom was called home by out heavenly father on November 11, 2013.

Our great grandmother managed theatres in St. Louis so theatre was in dad’s blood. Then while in high school he was in the DECCA program his Junior and Senior years and went to school a half day and worked at the Loew’s State in Downtown St. Louis. Dad loved the movie theatres and started researching them early in his life. He was most fond of the Loew’s State. Mr. Bovin was the City Manager for Loew’s in St. Louis. The two built a special bind. Others there were Nick Manzella the manage and John Muich the assistant manager. Dad wanted to be a pilot above all things though. He did his college and then his flight school, met our mother in college. Through pulling some string by people that could dad was able to get a job with TWA. His life was happy, a beautiful career and a wonderful loving wife. They had three children, Stephen Philip, Christopher Charles and Zachary Benjamin. Mon developed cancer while carrying Zachary and passed away three months after Zachary was born. It was very difficult for all three of us boys but it was extremely hard on dad. He had to do local flights so that he could be home with us as much as possible. We must say we had the greatest dad the heavenly father could put on this earth. As we got older dad was able to work international flights. When we were not in school we would make as many trips with him as possible. Dad joined an online site called Cinema Treasures and it worked out great for him. When he had layovers in his destination cities he would research theatres. Dad joined Cinema Treasures not very long after it went live inline. He joined on October 6, 2003 and over the years has contributed more than 5,000 theatres, 14,000 comments and almost 4,000 photos to the site. Dad lived for his sons first, flying second and the theatres were his one and only hobby. He made some special friends on Cinema Treasures, Patsy from down south, Ken from New York,, Randy Carlisle the great photographer from Texas, Don Lewis from the Dallas Fort Worth area (Don is also a airline worker with Southwest) but they all are contributors to Cinema Treasures. There is also Ken Roe from the United Kingdom who was a wonderful friend to dad. Out Mom was born and raised in the UK. Being a pilot dad had his favorites to fly to. His number one spot was Hawaii. That is where mom and dad were buried. They are there is spirit and we well be able to feel that spirit when we go over there. Mom and Dad had their condo new Honolulu on the ocean and he spent the mainland cold months in HI. We have family and friends in St. Louis, Salt Lake City and of course Hawaii so we had to have services at all three places before dad was finally buried. Dad got me started on Cinema Treasure but I don’t know if I will ever be able to fill his shoes. But I will try. Mahalo to all those that have helped me so far, especially Joe Vogel and Ken. Ken I can’t count the times that when we were around dad and he would read your comments and just bust out laughing. You touched his heart in so many way. I know there are many others but those mentioned in this dedication are the one that dad talked about most of the time. His love through my spirit goes out to you all. You are all treasures in so many ways and thru a treasure that your friendships came to fruitation “Cinema Treasures” Mahalo to you all. Dad really fought a tough battle but his body was so weak from the first tumor that he didn’t have the physical strength to beat it this time. I tried to be there for him as much as possible and sometimes I felt like I wasn’t there enough. Being the firstborn there was a special bind between the two of us. I still feel the flow involuntarily when I go through his theatre research, when I see something that was special to him, his photos. Time will help I know. And since we were all sealed together in the Temple I know we will all be together again one day.

Well to all I say Mahalo and Aloha (An eternal Aloha to Patsy from dad)

Stephen Philip Van Bibber, Christopher Charles Van Bibber, Zachary Benjamin Van Bibber

nadadale
nadadale on November 17, 2013 at 7:41 pm

In a recent book, I read that Ginger Rogers lived above the Grenada in its early years, prior to teaming up with Fred Astaire. JDH

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm

According to this item from the September 23, 1927, issue of The Film Daily, the Granada Theatre was built by the Skouras Borthers and Harry Koplar:

“New St. Louis House Named

“St. Louis — The Granada is the name selected for the theater at Gravois and Ellenwood Sts. which will be opened by the St. Louis Amusement Co. in a few weeks. The new house will seat about 2000 and will be among the largest of the outlying theaters operated by Skouras Bros, and Harry Koplar. It is planned to use this house for subsequent runs getting pictures immediately after the Missouri and Ambassador.”

Warner Bros. took over Skouras Brothers Enterprises in 1928. I don’t know when the Arthurs took over the Saint Louis Amusement Company.

studio2
studio2 on December 29, 2011 at 1:34 pm

I remember coming to the Granada to see Back to the Future and the film kept busting and they had to restart it. Also saw my first R rated film there as well Porky’s. My parents took me I think I was 9 years old. They must have thought it was about that Looney Tunes character.

Frank Scalf
Frank Scalf on August 13, 2011 at 9:30 am

I was born in St. Lou and grew up over by my grandparents house on Juniata St and Gustine Ave. I remember seeing Nightmare on Elmstreet w/my dad and uncle and sister and being scared to death walking home, because every alley we would pass by my uncle would yell “THERE’S FREDDY!!!!!” Also saw Airplane. Hated that the theater couldn’t be saved.

Giggleloop
Giggleloop on May 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

I have the vaguest memory of the Granada as a kid, I know that it’s where I saw my first movie (The Empire Strikes Back). I didn’t realize that it was torn down in the 90s, I had always heard that there was a fire there. I must have gotten it confused with something else!

mike46
mike46 on March 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

Back in the 50’s my neighbor on Alfred Ave. told me that when the Granada was being built, they had the front wall up (just the structural brick) and a windstorm came up one night and laid the wall all across Gravois Ave.

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on November 21, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Here is part of a December 1992 article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The scheduled coming feature attraction at the condemned Granada Theater building this week might be called “Coming Down.” That’s because Don Bellon, owner of Bellon Wrecking and Salvage Co., which has the contract to raze the long-vacant building at 4519 Gravois Avenue, said last week that demolition of the landmark could begin as early as this week. By mid-week, workers were removing the building’s ornate trim.

Bellon was issued a permit late last week to raze the theater building. He also has clearance from the air pollution control office of the city’s building division. That permit was needed because of asbestos in the building.

The building’s owner, Mark Wenner, a lawyer who lives in Ladue, is to appear today before City Judge Christopher Smith to report on the progress of razing the building, which was condemned in November 1991. Last September, Smith found Wenner guilty of eight of 13 violations cited in the condemnation order.

Alderman Jack Garvey, D-14th Ward, who has criticized the condition of the building, said, “It’s sad. There is a lot of memories and history there. But when you neglect a building like that, and it threatens safety, then you have to take it down. Buildings with a 15-foot hole in the roof are a problem.”

plasticfootball
plasticfootball on March 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

I’ve seen the “Boller Brothers site” Chuck refers to—it was years ago and I don’t have the URL—but I may be able to clear a few things up. The site listed the town, the cinema and the date for a lot of Boller projects, and in many cases the date listed for a particular theater was long after the theater had opened. This suggests that the Boller firm was simply doing a remodel job on an existing cinema. In the Granada’s case, it’s entirely possible that while Rupert was the original architect, the Bollers made later contributions.

sdoerr
sdoerr on April 10, 2005 at 7:56 pm

Thanks for the photos Charles.
A true shame

JamesGrebe
JamesGrebe on February 15, 2005 at 4:49 am

As the theatre was being torn down I was able to get in to scavange and I have somewhere the plexiglass “Aisle 3” sign that marked the same. I also have pics that I took in various stages of it being tore down. On the stage was a Shultz grand piano that I assume went down also. It was located behind the screen. The Majestic in East St. Louis had the same type front.
JamesGrebe

melders
melders on June 17, 2004 at 11:19 pm

Perhaps the Boller Brothers where not the designers, just the supervising architects, and E.P. Rupert was the actual designer. Or perhaps it is the other way around.

tntim
tntim on June 14, 2004 at 6:13 am

I skimmed the list of theatres on the above website. The one theatre that jumped out at me was the Lowes Midland in Kansas City, which is one of Thomas Lamb’s masterpieces. This makes me wonder how accurate the above site is.

melders
melders on May 15, 2004 at 11:49 pm

I only found one site on the web that listed Boller Brothers theaters, and they had several theaters listed on there that where not built by the Boller Brothers.

melders
melders on May 13, 2004 at 11:05 pm

Ok, thanks for clarifying this. Do you remember what the address is for that web site?

melders
melders on May 13, 2004 at 12:16 am

Charles, you seem to have a hard time agreeing with people over who built theaters. Also why would a theater company have a theater on there web site that was built so long ago and has not existed in almost a decade.

JAlex
JAlex on May 5, 2004 at 9:18 pm

Building permit issued in Nov. 1925 lists E.P. Rupert as architect.

Theatre opened Oct. 1, 1927.

melders
melders on March 31, 2004 at 11:32 pm

Recently read in “St. Louis Lost” that the facade and some of the interior plaster work was saved. Was wondering if anyone has any information on if these objects still exist, and if they do, where are they?