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Princess Theater, Fox Park

Fox Park and Northside 001

The old Princess Theater, formerly the Pestalozzi, was in the news, ahem, recently, which caused me to find out about this old cinema near my house on Pestalozzi Avenue.  At some point the pretty, if modest front was either removed and replaced in what looks to be the 1970’s; it certainly qualifies as a Bad Mansard.  But what is truly fascinating is the strange little tower I’ve always wondered about in the yard next door; it turns out it was the projector room for the “airdome” theater, which as far as I can tell was an open air theater back in the day.  Apparently such a tower is extremely rare nowadays, and may be the only one left in the city.  How interesting, and I wonder about its future.

Fox Park and Northside 002

5 Comments

  1. Why was it “in the news recently?” I take it the “ahem” is telling? I could find nothing on this.

    Way back, sometime between 1947 and 1950, my sister and I were taken to the old Powhatan Theater on Sutton in Maplewood, and we sat in its airdome! Quite a thrill! As one set of our grandparents lived in Maplewood, we were frequent visitors there until it closed around 1950 or so. That was the only time we were in the airdome portion, though.
    The theater proper’s building is still there, although the airdome part was changed to a supermarket and then to a different commercial use.

  2. During the 30s & 40s the first movie was shown inside and then when dark the second movie was shown outside as at the Melba Peerless The ARmo on Morgenford did not have an inside movie house. The beginning SoGood Potato Chip Company was just starting in a storefront on Gravois almost west to Arsenal. They sold broken potato chips 25 cents for a shopping bag full we would chip in and buy a shopping bag full for the two movies cartoon serial news of the day and previews The Princess was affectionately called The Bean Opera House

    • Don, thanks for the info! I have one question about “air domes;” does that just mean open air, or was there a tent or inflatable roof?

      • Chris – most, if not all, were open to the elements for maximum cooling (some had those slow-moving type fans). I’ve never heard of a covering, although it’s entirely possible. I don’t think inflatable roofs were around in the same time frame as airdomes.

  3. I am so intrigued by this! My Grandmother, recently deceased, told me stories of when her father converted The Princess Theater into a tavern. I was given to believe my Great-Grandfather, Chester Ulysses Kirkpatrick, named it “The Bean” but it may not have originated with him, after all. My Grandmother told me she would do dishes at the tavern after school, and would dance there with friends. I would love to know more of its history and how it intersected with the lives of my ancestors…

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