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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
St. Louis, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The First Nickelodeon

Cherokee-Lemp Historic District

 
 
The First Nickelodeon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, October 7, 2018
1. The First Nickelodeon Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  The faded lettering on the east side of this building once read "Wehrenberg's." In 1907, Fred Wehrenberg operated a grocery/saloon in this corner storefront. A year later he had rented a vacant storefront nearby on Cherokee and converted it into St. Louis' first recorded nickelodeon -- beginning the Wehrenberg Theatre chain.

Wehrenberg bought used kitchen chairs to seat the movie-goers. His wife, Gertrude, accompanied the silent features on piano -- playing "Hearts and Flowers" for love scenes and "Light Cavalry" when the Indians were chasing the stage coach or the soldiers came riding to the rescue.

Wehrenberg charged a nickel for each 35-minute picture feature. A full-house netted $4.95. At intermission, the movie-goers scrambled next door for a stein of beer at the Wehrenberg Saloon.

Soon the Wehrenbergs were operating an airdrome on Jefferson Avenue beside their storefront theatre. Airdomes -- open air theaters surrounded by board fences and with benches for seating -- provided outdoor entertainment on steamy, hot summer evenings. Wehrenberg also operated the airdome in winter, putting on a canvas top and heating it
The First Nickelodeon Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, October 7, 2018
2. The First Nickelodeon Marker
with pot-bellied stoves.

In 1910, Fred and Gertrude built the city's first theatre designed exclusively for movies -- also on Cherokee. The Wehrenbergs' history is further interwoven with Cherokee since they expanded to operate several movie houses along the street.

Wehrenberg Theatres -- with beginnings on Cherokee -- is one of the nation's largest theatre circuits, and is the oldest family owned and operated chain in the United States.
 
Erected 1999 by NiNi Harris. (Marker Number X.)
 
Location. 38° 35.607′ N, 90° 13.52′ W. Marker is in St. Louis, Missouri. Marker is on Cherokee Street east of South Jefferson Avenue, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3354 South Jefferson Avenue, Saint Louis MO 63118, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. If These Walls Could Talk? They Can. (here, next to this marker); The Billiards Hall (within shouting distance of this marker); 2315-17 Cherokee (within shouting distance of this marker); In 1860 A Scholarly Neighborhood (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); 2301 Cherokee (about 300 feet away); 2621-2623 Cherokee Street (about 300 feet away); 2225 Cherokee (about 300 feet away); South St. Louis Architect (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Louis.
 
Categories. EntertainmentIndustry & Commerce
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 9, 2018. This page originally submitted on October 9, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 34 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 9, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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