The First Nickelodeon

The First Nickelodeon (HM2C40)

Location: St. Louis, MO 63118
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 35.607', W 90° 13.52'

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Cherokee-Lemp Historic District

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 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.
HM NumberHM2C40
Year Placed1999
Placed ByNiNi Harris
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, October 9th, 2018 at 11:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)15S E 741653 N 4275314
Decimal Degrees38.59345000, -90.22533333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 35.607', W 90° 13.52'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 35' 36.42" N, 90° 13' 31.2" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)314
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 3354 S Jefferson Ave, St. Louis MO 63118, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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