The Orpheum Theater, Revisited

Update: See the side entrances of the theater in this post from June of 2016.

As of June 2013, the Orpheum Theater seems to be sitting empty, but I wanted to get back to photograph some of its incredible detail.

Orpheum Theater, Ninth and St. Charles Streets. Photograph by W.C. Persons, 1920-29. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. PB 80. Scan 2006, Missouri Historical Society.

I actually photographed this building as part of one of my first posts; I even think some of the photos date from before my move back to St. Louis at the old post. I also photographed it a few years later. So below, take a look at the little details I noticed this last visit.




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12 Comments Add yours

  1. The Orpheum Theater is a beautiful building, I saw two concerts there while it was called The American Theater. I had a great time on both occasions. I remember standing in line all day waiting on the sidewalk to see Ozzy Osbourne (general admission). We would go across the street to grab some food from the greasy spoon (Jimmy’s?) The Roberts brothers did a wonderful job renovating it, but why aren’t they using it? Is it related to their financial problems? It’s a shame that it is basically closed, what a waste.

  2. Mike Gallaghe says:

    I was just in St. Louis last week (7/1/13) and I went directly to the Orpheum Theater. I love that building and am still discusted that Kansas City’s near twin Orpheum was demolished years ago. It was sad to see that is is closed again and in disuse. An employee at the hotel acorss the street advised that it is to be domolished soon, but some preservationist are going to salvage much of the front facade and some of the interior pieces. If this is true, how sad for St. Louis to loose yet another beautiful historic theater – the loss of the Ambassador was a tragedy for sure. No other City today would have demolished either theater in recent years. They would have been preserved. Hope the people of St. Louis will somehow save this masterpiece from the wrecking ball.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Mike, luckily the hotel employee is wrong. There are no plans to tear down the Orpheum.

  3. MIke Gallagher says:

    Chris I wish you were correct, but the Hotel has made a big offer to the City for that Property. The city owns it with a lot of back taxes due. Unless there is an outcry from the folks of St. Louise saying that they have lost enough of their historic theaters – it will be domolish probably by Summer.

  4. MIke Gallagher says:

    When it comes to prime real estate, the City has never cared about historic preservation. I am sure that much of the building pieces will be salvaged.

  5. Timm says:

    The City does not own the property and it is essentially current on property taxes (2011 and 2012 were paid, 2013 is a few weeks late which is typical). st Louis theater group llc out of Chicago owns it

  6. Mike Gallagher says:

    I just found out that the same Chicago Co. that owns the Hotel did indeed purchase the Orpheum Theater and paid up the current taxes. Their plans have not been very clear but there is an indication of upgrading the Hotel and doing something to incorporate that theater. They have not announced any plans to restore and renovate the theater for live performances. I know the beautiful Opera House has been restored and is being used, but it has cut into the bookings for the Fox. Was is very sad is that St. Louis lost the Ambassador Theater and it is just a grassy front for a bank and a parking garage now. Very sad.

  7. Jayne Lashley says:

    Some years ago, I was a catering sales manager for the Roberts Mayfair and we also sold and catered the Orpheum next door. We did several lavish wedding receptions as well as corporate events. The theater is one of a kind and absolutely gorgeous and full of history – so many celebrities have performed on the stage. It would be a sin to demolish it for sure. It should be further restored and return as an event venue and performance space.

  8. Jayne Lashley says:

    This theater is a real treasure and must be restored!

  9. Mike Gallagher says:

    It is up to the Arts Community and their friends in the City of St. Louis to save the Orpheum Theater. It will be in horrible shape very soon if nothing is done. I know that owners of the Hotel want that property.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I think this building will not be demolished due to its historic value. But yes, someone needs to step up and spend the money to get it back open.

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