First and Last
Located in East St Louis, IL
Photo © 2009 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Majestic Theater History
The Majestic Theater in East St. Louis IL was designed for Harry Redmon and Fred Leber by the Boller Brothers, a renowned architectural firm based in Kansas City who specialized in theater design. The large 1,743-seat performance space was originally designed for vaudeville performances, but was soon converted to showing motion pictures with the installation of a state-of-the-art Vitaphone sound film system in 1928. It was the first theater where one could see a "talkie" in southern Illinois, and later, the first theater in the city with air conditioning. During the peak of East St. Louis in the 1954, the Majestic was outfitted with a curved Cinemascope screen, and a new projector that was able to handle the increased screen size.
As the factories in the Midwest closed down in the late 1950s and 1960s, the population of East St. Louis was drastically cut down as people moved into affluent suburbs; rampant crime soon spread throughout an emptying downtown. Profits from ticket sales simply weren't being made, and the Majestic closed its doors in 1960. Attempts to maintain the beautiful space inside were made in the 1970s with a new roof and doors, but the property spiraled into decay despite being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.