Powell Symphony Hall

718 N. Grand Boulevard,
St. Louis, MO 63103

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rivest266 on February 20, 2016 at 4:06 pm

November 25, 1925 grand opening ad as St. Louis in photo section.

DavidZornig on January 11, 2016 at 6:57 pm

1944 photo added courtesy of Donald Oswald‎.

DavidZornig on January 7, 2016 at 8:33 am

1954 photo as the St. Louis Theatre added courtesy of the Vintage St. Louis Facebook page.

Lak on November 9, 2010 at 11:44 am

I heard that the interior of this theatre was repainted in the last year to accent more of the plasterwork. Anyone heard anything? Also, I would like to see the symphony install some sort of “ grand drape” over the proscenium. That fire curtain thing they have hanging there now looks horrible. Any opinion on this?

Lak on March 31, 2009 at 1:37 pm

The new vertical sign was installed in Aug.2007. While reports state that,“ its a copy of the original,” don’t be fooled. It’s not! I will say it looks great though. The exterior of the building now needs a good cleaning!!

kencmcintyre on March 19, 2008 at 9:41 pm

This circa mid 70s photo shows some interior detail:

melders on September 18, 2007 at 6:39 am

Just saw online that a new sign was added to Powell. It’s an upright marquee in the place of the old one that was removed in the 1960s. I don’t know how close to the original it is, but I really doubt it is close. Here is a link to pics View link

kencmcintyre on November 9, 2006 at 4:07 pm

Here is an article about the renovation from the Northwest Arkansas Times, dated 1/22/68:

The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will no longer have to compete with
rock ‘n’ roll musicians in the battles of the bands. The symphony has a new home, a glittering palace complete with crystal chandeliers
and a very proper bar salvaged from the New York Metropolitan Opera building which is now just a memory.

“It’s a dream, it’s just a dream”, said Walter Susskind, new conductor for the orchestra. The dream becomes reality Wednesday night when the symphony presents its first concert in Powell Hall, named for Walter S. Powell, whose widow provided a generous endowment for the project.

The orchestra’s new home was built more than 40 years ago as a movie theater to end them all with a 70-foot domed ceiling in the auditorium, Italian marble floors, carved and gilded mouldings. But its history wasn’t as happy as its promise, until now. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Society purchased the theater two years ago for about $400,000. Renovation has cost about $2 million.

JAlex on April 10, 2006 at 6:25 am

Powell Hall (the old-St. Louis)and the Michigan in Detroit may have some common elements, but are not twins.

Rapp & Rapp, shall we say, “mixed and matched” a number of times.
I’m certainly not being negative when saying this, but one must remember that in the mid-20s these movie palaces were coming off the drawing boards at a pretty fast clip and certain architectural-features could appear in more than one theatre.

To cite one example: the organ screens in the St. Louis (covered up in Powell Hall) can be seen at the Rialto Square in Joliet.

sdoerr on March 19, 2006 at 10:57 am

Yes, the Michigan located in Detroit. (I usually don’t say the city if a theater is located in Detroit.)

sdoerr on March 17, 2006 at 8:20 pm

Powell Hall is said to be a twin of the Michigan. I find the lobbies to be very similar, but the auditorium of the Michigan appears more like the Rialto Square.

melders on May 15, 2004 at 11:36 pm

I also agree that the name should be St. Louis Theater, not Powell Symphony Hall.

melders on May 15, 2004 at 11:35 pm

Perhaps the theater was built for Metropolitan theaters, it was on the Orpheum circuit, and was later owned by Skouras Brothers.

JAlex on May 14, 2004 at 9:10 am

In above, it was $100,000 annual rental for a 10-year term.

JAlex on May 14, 2004 at 9:07 am

An news story in the Globe-Democrat of March 6, 1925 tells the tale of Metropolitan Theatres being sued by the person who was hired to negotiate the lease of the theatre to the Orpheum Circuit. Terms were $100,000 rental for 10 years and 50% of the profit.

Incidentally, on this website, shouldn’t the theatre be listed as the ST. LOUIS Theatre as that was the name when a “cinema treasure”?

JimRankin on May 13, 2004 at 1:59 am

Possibly the only way to be really sure, is to go to the Register of Deeds and take the time to locate all covenants annd deeds recorded for the legal description of the land the theatre occupies. It is true that a theatre can have a separate land owner, a local builder or building owner, and still be “built” by a chain of theatres, in the sense that they lease the site and building from a local owner, but it is their plans that are completed; thus all mentioned may have been involved at some point. Contracts may be recorded there or perhaps with the Secretary of State.

melders on May 12, 2004 at 11:56 pm

According the Landmark Association’s book on St. Louis landmarks, it says that it was built as part of the Orpheum chain. JAlex might be right with it being built for Metropolitain theatres, but the book says nothing about Skouras Brothers ever building it.

melders on May 10, 2004 at 11:42 pm

The Powell Hall was not built for the Skouras Brothers, it was built by the Orpheum chain.

JAlex on April 24, 2004 at 9:03 am

The St.Louis was not built by Skouras Brothers, nor was it ever operated by that firm.

The St. Louis was built by Metropolitan Theatres, a local firm which included Harry Koplar.

Opening date was November 23, 1925.

As the St. Louis it had an original seating capacity of 3881.

JAlex on October 19, 2002 at 10:27 pm

When the St. Louis opened, it was considered a “Junior” Orpheum house—meaning it featured five acts of vaudeville and a feature film with continuous performances.

As a movie house, the St. Louis closed on Oct. 31, 1966 after a 19-month run of, appropriately enough, “The Sound of Music”.