3819 California Avenue,
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The Monroe Airdome opened its doors on April 25, 1915 with a 10-reeler presentation of “The Little Girl That He Forgot”.
The Monroe Airdome was operated by 49-year-old Jacob Spath of Caseyville, Illinois who operated the Monroe Airdome until his death. He was assassinated on July 1, 1922 at approximately 11:30 AM, after being shot by a gun during a possible robbery, receiving a bullet wound inside his forehead. The bullet had entered the head over the right eye penetrating the brain. He was transported from an ambulance to one of the city’s hospitals who later pronounced dead at approximately 2:45 AM the following morning on July 2, 1922.
Exactly 30 minutes right after the shooting had occurred, Patrolman Henry Esprich of the Wyoming Street District was called by Fred Rothaus of 3814 California Avenue, who lives a block away from the theater and was heading home at that time. Rochaus explained to Esprich that upon his arrival that he was awakened by 2 men who were calling for Spath, acting as watchmen. The 2 men were part of the Formen & Smith Film Delivery Company of 310 Channing Avenue, and were calling for the films that had been shown that night. The men left after gaining entrance and obtaining the films. Espruch while upon searching the airdome, and found Spath lying motionless on the stage. He saw the blood spilling all over Spath’s head which he grips in fear. The reason why a possible robbery was issued is because Spath had often boasted of the amount of money he carried. His trunk had been dragged across the stage and the lock forced open which contained $210 in cash. 3 people were arrested and charged for attempt of a possible first-degree murder in the case. The 3 robbers apparently though lived in a room at the rear of the stage. The St. Louis Police Department later determined that the one of the 3 robbers shot Spath. One of the employees from the airdome said that Spath frequently spoke of having Liberty bounds, but he did not believe in banks. Spath was believed to have kept a considerable sum of money on his person. He was said to have $1,000 invested in the airdome.
Here is the main story: At the time the shots were rang out, Mr. Joseph Foertch of 2810A Chippewa Street near the airdome heard an unknown amount of shots. She looked out the window and saw a total of 4 men in the alley behind the airdome trying to startup a Ford Model T and drove away. She called the police. When the police arrived, they found Spath lying unconscious on the stage. An officer revealed him with the forehead bullet wound and revealed that the bullet had emerged at the back of his head, and he was clad only in his underwear. Shortly after he died at the hospital, police identified the trunk, which had been moved from his room to the stage and the lock broken.
The police concluded that he had been awakened by robbers and resisted them. He had no money when he was found. Police later identified the vehicle, a Ford Model T, being abandoned. The vehicle’s driver was also identified as O.N. Mask of 911 Allen Avenue, which was stolen from a grove at 5800 Gravois Avenue a short time prior to Spath’s assassination.
While Rothaus heard the shots, he heard the men at the airdome yelling “Jack”. He went over and found that they were the 2 members of the Formen & Smith Film Delivery Company, who were trying to get inside the airdome, getting the films that had been used earlier that evening. They were unable to get inside the building.
This caused the closure to the Monroe Airdome.
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