Ambassador Theatre Artifacts

Updated: Feb 23

Building: The Ambassador Theatre

Location: 411 N. 7th at Locust Street, Northwest corner

Designed by: C. W. Rapp and George Rapp (Rapp and Rapp) firm of architects

Built: 1926

Demolished: 1996

Artifacts Manufactured by: Winkle Terra Cotta Company

Currently: Plaza in front of a bank

Quantity: Sphinx: 7, Cartouche: 9

Size: Sphinx: 65" x 45", Cartouche: 36" x 6' 4"

Price: $4000 per piece

These pieces have been in storage since 1996. They were recently saved from the dumpster once again, and are now available. They are being professionally repaired and stripped of any paint, to return them to their original terra-cotta glory.

The Ambassador Theatre opened August 26, 1926, in the Ambassador Building, which cost $5 million to construct. Critics at that time heralded the building with such comments as the Ambassador “will take its place among the world’s most beautiful and modern buildings” and “St. Louis' newest palace of wonders”. The day the Ambassador Theatre opened, St. Louisians flocked to see this unique palace.

Opening night drew a spellbound audience of over 3,000. The program consisted of a movie “Pals First”, stage performances, a chorus, an orchestra, and solos on the organ. The mighty Wurlitzer 4 Manual, 23 Rank organ had a console decorated with silver leaf – a switch from the traditional gold – and jeweled lights on the organ screen sparkled on and off. The organ cost $115,000 and brought fame to the theatre.

In 1953 attendance at the Ambassador Theatre began to fall off, and it was remodelled as the Ambassador Cinerama Theatre. Articles in the St. Louis newspapers announced that both the Fox Theatre and Ambassador Theatre were likely to close.

The Ambassador Theatre under the direction of the Arthur Enterprises Inc. made many attempts through the 1970’s to make it as a movie theatre and live concert venue but they all failed. It hosted 14 concerts with the likes of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Bruce Springsteen, Steely Dan, and Jefferson Starship, just to name a few. It was closed in May 1976, and was added to the Register of Historic Places in 1983. The owners auctioned off all fixtures and fittings in 1989. In 1996, it was demolished along with its office building which turned to quite a task. The theatre was built inside the office building and was constructed to with-stand earthquakes and the demolition took longer than anticipated.


Vintage photographs and text credits: cinematreasures.com, https://jerrygarciasbrokendownpalaces.blogspot.com/search?q=Ambassador+Theatre & https://www.builtstlouis.net/ambassador01.html

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