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American Theatre

Photo from the Charles Van Bibber collection
619 Market St
Saint Louis MO

Demolished 1953
Record #19872  
 Opened: August 17, 1908
 Closed: May 2, 1953
 Demolished: 1953
Capacity: 1707 seats
Architect(s): FC Bonsack
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

The first major theater in town to bear the American name, this venue was designed by C.F. Bonsack, located in the American Hotel and founded by Louis Cella. With 1,707 seats, three balconies and its own power plant, the impressive theater became the St. Louis home for touring vaudeville acts and the big stars of the day. It was also an early movie outlet for the Triangle Pictures company. By 1918, new managers Klaw & Erlanger were booking "legitimate" stage productions. Over the years, movies were shown sporadically among the live engagements, but the American closed as a playhouse. On May 2, 1953, "The Four Poster" finished its run and star Hume Cronyn sang "Auld Lang Syne." The curtain was not brought down. Two days later, the Cleveland Wrecking Company began the biggest razing job in St. Louis history to date. Crews of 75-100 men, using 1000-foot cranes and 4000-ton iron wrecking balls, took five months to bring the theater and hotel down. The American name was later transferred to the old Orpheum Theater.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

Photos from the Charles Van Bibber collection.

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Last featured 3/8/2005. Last edited 6/5/2016.

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