American Theatre

St. Louis, MO / 1908-1953


- 1908 ad -

619 Market St
Saint Louis MO

Architect: FC Bonsack - Capacity: 1707 seats
Opened: February 17, 1908 - Closed/Demolished: May 2, 1953

The first major theater in St. Louis 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."

Actors Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy speak after the final performance in the American Theater at 619 Market Street on May 2, 1953.
Cronyn and Tandy, a married couple, played in a comedy-drama about marriage called The Four Poster. The American Hotel and Theater
were demolished for a parking lot, and the theater was moved the former Shubert Theater in midtown, then back downtown for many
years in the former Orpheum Theater. Kiener Plaza is on the original site. (Post-Dispatch)

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.

Programs available from this theatre:

  • Annie Get Your Gun (1948 house program)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1948 souvenir program)

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