3936 N. 9th Street,
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Previous Names: Mogler's Family Theatre and Airdome, Mogler's Theatre
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In a city known for colorful theatre operators and long-standing neighborhood movie houses, the story of theatre operator turned State Senator Joseph Mogler and his Mogler Theatre would be hard to beat. This location was the first of three for Mogler in St. Louis' Northside. Mogler’s Family Theatre and Airdome opened on April 20 1909. This former factory building was converted to the plans of a St. Louis based architect. It become Mogler’s Theatre opening on March 17, 1915. Seating was provided for 1,200, all on a single floor. The usual space occupied by a balcony was used as a six-room apartment for the owner of the theatre. Mogler would also operate the Bremen Theatre at 20th Street and Bremen Avenue and the Excello Theatre at Salisbury Street and 25th Street.
Mogler was an outgoing type making connections and even became President of the Motion Picture Theatre Owners of Missouri in 1919 and vice-president of the national MPTOA. Mogler would frequent his theatres and drew crowds when he would freely distribute money to passers-by at Christmas and at other times of the year. He continued this practice after becoming Missouri State Senator Mogler in 1926. The money giveaway became a weekly practice with police crowd control in 1928 and Mogler said he had given away thousands of dollars.
Mogler also became well known for bailing out people out of jail who appeared to have clear underworld links. Not long after the theatre’s 20th Anniversary, Mogler entered the theatre where two masked men confronted Mogler as he entered the foyer of the theatre and shot him at close range with a single bullet to the head. Police found a tied up janitor alive and the very dead Mogler as a result of the December 2, 1929 confrontation. Though Mogler’s wife contended he had nothing but friends - as born out by thousands of people who turned out to his funeral with the church packed and lines of people for clocks down the street - there appeared to be a very different story that led to his murder.
Mogler’s assassination remains unsolved in 2020 and hopes of solving the case appear bleak. The Mogler financial situation turned out to be quite dire as revealed after his death. The Mogler estate would sell off the silent-era Excello Theatre to the Kaimann Brothers Circuit and the Bremen Theatre found a buyer and new operator as both were survivors after being wired for sound. But the Mogler Theatre struggled and didn’t find a new exhibitor. Instead, the Mogler Theatre booked regular boxing matches in the early-1930’s because certainly good-natured boxing would change the theatre’s reputation But that, too, was not a good match, and the theatre was converted for other retail purposes.
The Mogler Theatre and former factory was torn down in 1935 and now is a vacant lot adjoining a service road to Interstate 70. However, one hopes there will be a celebration of Mogler’s life at the 100th Anniversary of his murder on the former site of Mogler’s Family Theatre and Airdome on December 2, 2029.
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