Powell Symphony Hall
2002 Photo from the Adam Martin collection
710-18 N Grand Blvd|
Saint Louis MO 63103
|Record #7549 |
Opened: November 23, 1925|
Capacity: 2689 seats|
Architect(s): Rapp & Rapp
Architectural Style(s): French Renaissance
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: Saint Louis Theatre|
Information for this tour was contributed by Darren Snow.
When the St. Louis Theatre opened on November 23, 1925, it was the largest movie house on the Orpheum circuit. Built by Sam and Nat Koplar -- whose descendents are still big names in St. Louis entertainment -- the theatre had a six-story vertical sign and a Kimball organ that cost $50,000. The total cost of the 4100-seat movie palace, which was designed by Rapp and Rapp, was over $2,000,000.
The honeymoon didn't last long, as the Orpheum chain went into receivership and the Koplars had to close the St. Louis in the winter of 1932. It came back to life the following year, but its troubles were far from over. The "fabulous" Fox Theatre (1929) was now the big kid on a block overflowing with movie palaces. A new, wider screen was an asset to some extent, but the organ had to be moved to a berth under the stage, where it was damaged by water and vandals. By the '60s, the Arthur Theatres chain was ready to give up on the St. Louis. Though the theatre had been closed for a while, the company needed a big house to exhibit the blockbuster "The Sound Of Music," so the St. Louis came back to life for one more long, successful run.
After that final movie closed, the venue was meticulously restored and adapted for use as the home of the award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Now in its 32nd year of opera, ballet, and classical music, Powell Hall has been hailed for its superior acoustics.
In spring 1999, movies returned to the lavish auditorium for one wonderful weekend. A temporary screen was hung above the stage, and the SLSO provided a live performance of the score as Charlie Chaplin's classic "City Lights" was shown.
Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.
July 2002 photos from the Adam Martin collection.
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Photos from the Darren Snow collection.
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Last featured 3/8/2005. Last edited 6/6/2016.