St. John's Cinema
8840 St. Charles Rock Road,
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Functions: Auto Repair Shop
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Gem Theatre, Art Theatre
The Gem Theatre was located in the St. Louis suburb of St. John. It opened in 1926. It was operated by Henry Holloway who operated other suburban theatres such as the Beverly Theatre.
The Gem Theatre went through a complete remodel and reopened on November 23, 1935. A fire on August 24, 1944 began at the rear of the theatre and part of the roof collapsed. The front of the theatre remained intact other than smoke and water damage. The fire caused some $60,000 in damage.
When repairs were made the Gem Theatre reopened on January 16, 1946. They faced another problem at this time as the stagehands began picketing the theatre because there was no work for them. The controversy went on for sometime. The Gem Theatre then took a smoother road and General Cinema assumed management in the 1960’s. The Gem Theatre closed in 1969 and the Mid America Chain reopened it June 19, 1970 as the Art Theatre.
It changed names again in the 1970’s and became the St. John Cinema. Mid American dropped it from their chain in 1977. It continued as an independent for several months and then closed.
It resumed business under the management of Harman Moseley. The kids of the neighborhood were doing the theatre more harm than good and on April 29, 1979 two police officers demanded that the show stop so that they could sesarch the premises for a couple of suspicious youths. When they failed to present a warrant to Moseley he turned them away.
Early the next morning there was a fire that did damage to the amount of $100,000. At first is was blamed on a faulty pop corn machine. A couple weeks later Moseley received a letter from a neighbor explaining that the fire was set by the two police officers. The two police officers were arrested along with a sergeant for arson. The theatre never reopened.
The building is still standing today and is a van conversion shop.
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