Beverly Theater

7740 Olive Boulevard,
St. Louis, MO 63131

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ragu4u71 on March 20, 2021 at 8:20 am

I was the manager of this theater in the late 1960’s & very early 1970’s, as well as its Dist. Mgr. for some time after that while it was still owned by Mid America Theaters. I left just as it started to become known as an “X” rated movie house! I was transferred to The Brentwood Theater during the 37th week of its 54 week run of “Midnight Cowboy”! Lots of fond memories as manager at both of those theaters . Most all of the kids who worked there were absolutely great.

Mikecarroll1 on December 6, 2016 at 6:59 am

I went to the Fine Arts many times back in the 1970s. It did not run hardcore pornos, but the French soft cores that were so popular, particularly with couples—The Story of O and Emmanuelle were very big and it was extremely romantic to go on a Friday or Saturday date night. And everyone was dressed to the nines! The Last Tango in Paris ran here for over half-a-year, the first few months on an advanced ticket sale and reserved seat basis. That was the first X-rated film I saw and I still think it is a classic. They also ran lots of French films that were PG and R. I saw Day For Night, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and Claude Lelouch’s And Now, My Love, which changed my life and inspired me to become a professional cameraman. Both of those were M or PG. It was a terrific cinema. I think of it very fondly.

rivest266 on February 27, 2016 at 7:24 pm

October 6th, 1967 grand opening ad as Fine Arts in photo section.

rivest266 on February 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm

October 6th, 1937 small grand opening ad in photo section.

ths on March 18, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Anyone know why the theater was named the Beverly?

StLouisTheatreMan on October 31, 2014 at 3:04 am

If I remember correctly, “Last Tango in Paris” played at the Fine Arts. I used to work for Mid-America Theatres and would sometimes join a group of managers in the screening room at their main office at the Holiday Drive-in. While the films shown at the Fine Arts were x-rated, they were not hardcore. Every Friday, some executives would screen x-rated films for future bookings at the Fine Arts. As the films were screened, the projectionist would have to mark sections of the films that were too hardcore for St.Louis and he would cut them out. Every projectionist who worked the screening room had their own reel of hardcore clips cut from the movies and never put back after they film was shipped out. The theatre used to keep the house lights turned up during the films to discourage any public displays.

Weekend on March 12, 2014 at 3:06 am

Saw summer of 42 at the fine arts in 1972. Jennifer O'Neill. Stunning! It went downhill after that.

LouisRugani on April 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Architect Oliver W. Stiegemeyer was born in 1891, and by 1910 was listed as a draftsman, working for August F. Haeussler from 1909-1910 and then for Duggan and Huff from 1910-1912, the firm which designed the CLIMAX Theatre in Milwaukee and the CHEROKEE Theatre in St. Louis. From 1913 to 1931 he was a partner with a Mr. Kennerly and together they did a home at 3424 Longfellow in St. Louis, and the Deco/Moderne DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in Illinois. His final office address was at 4412 Lindell Boulevard, where he retired in 1942. Stiegemeyer died in 1985.

JAlex on December 12, 2009 at 5:45 pm

All ten of the religious & charitable groups I mentioned had an equal holding (10%) of the theatre. A newspaper report said each group was getting $66 a month under the lease for the theatre. The story broke in January 1984; the theatre property was sold to a local realtor that July.

Kyle Muldrow
Kyle Muldrow on December 12, 2009 at 3:21 pm

Oh, I see…so Mr. Halloway, the original owner, bequeathed (sp?) the theater to the Archdocese in his will. Of course, Mr. Halloway had no way of knowing what future owners of this theater were going to do. Makes sense now…thanks, JAlex! Was it the Archdiocese who eventually sold the theater?? I always thought there was no way the Archdiocese was going to approve of the films the Fine Arts was showing. Guess they couldn’t exercise the option to sell for whatever legal reason…

JAlex on December 12, 2009 at 12:55 am

Ah, once again the ownership of the theatre in its “X” days comes to the fore.

There were ten recipients in the wills of Mr. & Mrs. Henry Halloway. In addition to the Beverly were the Gem and the Airway Drive-In.

The ten recipients were: the St. Louis Catholic Archdiocese, the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, the Evangelical Children’s Home, Emmaus Homes, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of St. Mary, the St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf, the German St. Vincent Home, the Athletic Boys Club of St. Louis and the St. Jude Childrens Research

Kyle Muldrow
Kyle Muldrow on December 11, 2009 at 8:34 pm

I totally agree with Chris about the infamous Fine Arts. I never went to or even drove past this theater, but based on the movie ads I read in the newspaper in the 70s, it wasn’t hard to figure out what kind of movies they were showing.

At some point, it was discovered either the building or the land for the Fine Arts was owned, at least in part, by…get this…the St. Louis Archdiocese!! That’s right, the Catholic church owned a porno movie house!! Granted, the Archdiocese was not involved in booking films or managing the theater, but that discovery created quite the buzz for a while! If anyone has any more information on that, please feel free to post…and correct if I got part of that wrong.

Based on the comments from Chris and the pic from American Classics, it seems the Fine Arts tried to go mainstream in its final years. As a single-screen dollar show in the mid-80s, that idea was destined to be short-lived. However, one personal observation: It seems to me that, once a theater went porno, it was very difficult to shed that reputation. The Plaza Drive-In in St. Charles is another example. It showed a lot of soft-core porn in the 70s, then tried to go more mainstream in its final years of operation, but it just didn’t work. Guess once you get the reputation of showing porno-type films, that reputation sticks with you and is very, very difficult to change. Granted, both the Fine Arts and the Plaza Drive-in were very old theaters that were well past their prime anyway, but I still believe people’s memories of the movies they used to show played a part in their eventual closing down for good.

Just my observation…feel free to comment…

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on June 27, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Oh yeah, the notorious Fine Arts – Land of Porno! Ooooh-wee! Even as a kid, I know the titles on the marquee were skanky!

Went inside this place 1 time to see a $1 show of “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” after whoever owned it at the time ditched the porn. I felt nasty all over just being inside the joint!

JAlex on May 28, 2007 at 8:57 am

Seating capacity at opening (October 1937) was given as 1000.

Architect was O. W. Stiegemeyer.

In 1963 management was taken over by Sam Chernoff (an associate of Harry Wald) and theatre became the Beverly Art.

Mid-America took over the theatre in July 1967 and called it the Beverly Fine Arts until September of that year when it became the Fine Arts.

JAlex on January 6, 2005 at 11:36 am

From the business section in the 1/6/2005 St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“The Asian market and restaurant corridor on Olive Boulevard in University City now stretches from Interstate 170 to North and South Road with the opening this week of Wei Hong Theater and Cultural Center in the old Beverly Theater. It includes a restaurant, bakery and banquet halls.”

Dave on January 11, 2004 at 8:21 am

This theatre has been sold and gutted. It appears that the building will remain but its future use was not evident.