Maplewood History: The McGregor Bakery AKA The Powhatan Theater

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Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

The lovely building at 3107 Sutton has in its long life served many functions. I have in my dim memory that it was first built to house the McGregor Bakery and then a short time later was converted for use as a movie house showing silent pictures called the Powhatan Theater. My evidence that the first use was as a bakery seems to have dissipated from my electronic cache. Most likely it slipped into another file not too far off but you’ll just have to take my word for it until it shows up again (whatever it was).

Much of this research was provided by a generous soul by the name of Jerry Alexander. Jerry, a historic theater buff, was working on a book about the theaters of St. Louis when I last spoke with him. All of the facts below are courtesy of Jerry.

POWHATAN (Maplewood) (# 1)
3107 Sutton
Years of operation to be determined. Was listed in 1912 Maplewood City Directory. There was an entry in the 1915 Directory, but the address was not given as 3107 but as “one block south of loop”.
The owner, W. B. Powhatan, lived upstairs.
This operation ceased when the new theatre was opened, the date yet to be determined. The 1917 County Directory lists the theatre at the 3111 address. Structure was not demolished, but was converted to other uses, including Bake Shop, Confectionary, Auto Repair. The building still stands.
POWHATAN (Maplewood) (# 2) ? – 1949
850 Seats (1200 seats per 1937 TGSE) (954 per 1950 FDYB)
3111 Sutton (one block south of Manchester Loop)
Original owner was Wm. B. Powhatan .
The 1915 Maplewood City Directory lists theatre at “one block south of the loop”. This “address” could be of the old or the new theatre.
The first listing found in a County Directory was that of 1917. (Only directories seen in this era are those of 1909 and 19l7.
1920-21 Cahn-Hill: W. B. Powhatan management.
12/9/25 – Note theatre in SLAC display ad.
11/30/27 – 3111 Sutton, Maplewood, 1200. Pictures. St. Louis Amusement Co.
12/16/28 – First sound feature. (Was closed 12/10 through 12/15 for installation)
FD 11/12/34 – Alex Papand, who has taken over the Powhatan, plans to spend about $15,000 in improvements before he reopens house in about a month.
6/9/36 – First box ad for Avalon, Columbia, Powhatan, Roxy and White Way. (Papand & Schulter)
1936 – Operator is Alex Papand.
10/27/38 – Powhatan (and other P-S theatres) now appearing in F&M/SLAC ad.
6/1/39 – Ads again separate.
ST 9/25/40 – Theatre Closes Doors, Blames Union Demands; Employment of Unneeded Stagehand Requested, Powhatan Management Says
Early 1942 – Becomes Powhatan (one ‘t’ instead of two).
/31/42 – Last Pappas-Schulter ad.
2/1/42 – First SLAC ad.
2/11/42 – F&M Takes Over 2 More; Controls 30
2/18/42 – Victor Tramel now manager. Had been Missouri treasurer.
9/13/42 – Closes. (No reason ascertained.) Remains closed until 7/10/43.
7/10/43 – Theatre and airdome reopens with capitulation to IATSE concerning “stagehand”. [see IATSE entry]
9/15/45 – Theatre closed due to stagehand dispute. [See IATSE entries.]
5/30/46 – Theatre and airdome reopen with “Adventure”.
GD 10/30/49 – Theatre Sold to Chain for $68,200.
The Powhatan Theatre, Powhatan Airdome and adjoining parking lot were purchased last week by SLAC which has leased them for the past several years. Revenue stamps showed a cash consideration of $68,200.
The theatre is located at 3111 Sutton Ave. and has a seating capacity of about 1000 persons. The airdome next door is one of the few remaining outdoor theatres of its kind in the area.
Sale was for Mr. & Mrs. William B. Powhatan, former owners of the property.
V 11/16/49 – SLAC, which has been operating Powhatan, 1200-seater in Maplewood, under long-term lease, purchased the house, an adjoining airdome and parking lot.
11/27/49
– Closes with “Riders of the Whistling Pines” and “Hellfire”. Ad the following day says: “CLOSED! Attend the Maplewood and Ivanhoe!”
V 1/11/50 – SLAC, which recently purchased the Powhatan, 1200-seater, Maplewood, after operating it for a number of years, has shuttered the house, will reopen under a new policy.
GD 4/28/56 – Fire in Vacant Theatre Causes $2000 Damage.
Flames swept through the old Powhatan Theatre early yesterday (4/27), causing about $2000 damage.
PD 4/30/56 – Maplewood authorities today were investigating the possibility of arson as the cause of a fire which early yesterday (4/29) destroyed the Powhatan Theatre. The theatre has been vacant since 1944. [No, 1949]
Fire Captain Harold Deeming reported two men were seen running from the old theatre a few minutes before the fire was discovered. The building was damaged last Friday in another fire.
Damage was estimated at $10,000. Captain Deeming said the latest fire broke out in the rear while Friday’s fire started in the front of the theatre. Damage in the first fire was estimated at $2000.
The theatre property is owned by the National Food Center grocery chain. A spokesman said the firm planned to use the structure as a warehouse.
5/13/56 – Announced that a National Food Center store is to be built on the site of the Powhatan.
4/23/57 – National Food Store opens.

Wow. That’s an impressive bunch of research. Thank you, Jerry, for sharing this with us. Jerry actually sent more than this. I will send a PDF to anyone desiring to read it all.

Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.
Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.
From Jerry Alexander in 2014.
From Jerry Alexander in 2014.
From the 1950 Sanborn Insurance map.  Courtesy of Jerry Alexander.
From the 1950 Sanborn Insurance map. Courtesy of Jerry Alexander.
3107 Sutton in April of 2014. Photo by Yours Truly.
3107 Sutton in April of 2014. Photo by Yours Truly. (Wouldn’t it look a lot better if the damn wires were underground?)
Indian head signs from the Powhatan Theater.  The location of these signs is unknown.  Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.
Indian head signs from the Powhatan Theater. The location of these signs is unknown. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.
Powhatan Theater ad from the 1915 Maplewood Champion newspaper.  Talkies wouldn't arrive for anther 13 years.  courtesy of the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library.
Powhatan Theater ad from the 1915 Maplewood Champion newspaper. Talkies wouldn’t arrive for anther 13 years. Courtesy of the Headquarters Branch of the St. Louis County Library.

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