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Criterion Theatre

Photo from the Darren Snow collection
2644 Franklin Ave
Saint Louis MO

Record #7547  
 Closed: Yes (date unknown)
 Demolished: Yes (date unknown)
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: New Criterion

Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.

Dating back to around 1920, the Criterion has definitely seen better days--but it may yet make a comeback.

Located in a part of town heavily populated by African-Americans, the Criterion was a Greek-owned theatre that made headlines in 1939 when picketing members of the Colored Cashiers' Society, looking for better employment opportunities, had the theatre closed down briefly.

The Criterion survived into the '60s, then became a church and eventually closed its doors for the duration. The structural glass has chipped off of the facade in chunks, the doors are barricaded with huge sheets of corrugated metal, and the snazzy marquee has seen better days, but the erection of a police station across the street has kept further vandalism to a minimum and greatly reduced the volume of drug traffic that the abandoned building used to host.

Even in its shabby condition, the Criterion is the best-preserved of the old North Side movie houses that catered to African-Americans, and lately there's been talk of restoring the theatre and using it as a black history resource center.

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Last featured 3/29/2003. Last edited 6/6/2016.

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