Gem Theatre

1121 Ward Avenue,
Caruthersville, MO 63830

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dallasmovietheaters on November 7, 2018 at 7:37 am

L.W. Rodgers & Co. Theatre Circuit launched the Gem Theatre on January 15, 1942 with the film, “Tuxedo Junction.” The venue was built in the Pierce Building – formerly a grocery store – which was gutted and expanded for the Gem. The Rodgers Theatre became the second-run house operating primarily on weekends.

The Pierce Building conversion project actually dated back to the Strand Amusement Company of Tennessee acquiring the property in 1937 to build a theater. That project stalled and Rodgers – who was in the process of building a completely new theater – took on the languishing Pierce project.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 27, 2014 at 3:39 am

An April 19, 2008, post in the Caruthersville forum at Topix said that the Gem Theatre had been torn down a couple of months earlier.

The Saturday, January 17, 1942, issue of the Blytheville, Arkansas Courier-News said that the Rodgers theater circuit had opened the Gem Theatre in Caruthersville the previous Thursday. It wasn’t clear from the item if the Gem was then new or if it had just been taken over and reopened by Rodgers. The item also said that the opening of the Gem gave Caruthersville four operating theaters, but it only mentioned the Rodgers Theatre and the Stadium Theatre.

The January 2, 1942, issue of The Film Daily also had an item about the Gem:

“A new theater is being erected in Caruthersville, Mo., to be operated by I. W. Rodgers & Co. It will be christened the Gem Theater.”
1942 is the first year the Gem appears in the Film Daily Yearbook. It was also the first year for the Stadium Theatre and for a 286-seat house called the Cozy Theatre, which was listed as closed. The Cozy must have been the fourth theater mentioned in the newspaper item.

Here is a photo of the Gem Theatre taken in the late 1990s.

bushfaminwa on June 25, 2014 at 10:21 pm

I actually went to headstart in the building pictured above in 1978. I lived a block behind this building during that time frame so I know for sure it was not being ran as a theatre at that time. It was on the corner of 11th and Ward.

Norman Plant
Norman Plant on December 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Joe, I believe you are correct. When the Stadium is included on CT I will link the photos to the proper theater.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Comparing vintage photos of the Gem linked earlier, and from Bill2’s statement that the Stadium Theatre is now a woodworking shop, it’s clear that the two photos uploaded by Norman Plant depict the Stadium Theatre, not the Gem. The Stadium is not yet listed at Cinema Treasures.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm

From the 1990s photo of the Gem linked by lostmemory, it is clear that the red brick sidewalls of the theater building were much older than the white brick front. Its possible that the 1936 opening date for the Gem was actually a reopening of a remodeled and perhaps renamed theater.

It’s also possible that the Gem was the theater mentioned in the May 20, 1916, issue of The American Contractor:

“Caruthersville, Mo.—Theater & Airdome: $10,000. 2 sty. 80x140. Archt. M. E. Worcester, Cape Girardeau, Mo. Owner Caruthersville Amusement Co., care archt. Plans ready for bids.”
. The Gem appears to be about 40 feet wide, and the airdome could have been on the adjacent parcel where a smaller building shows in the 1990s photo. However, various issues of The Moving Picture World from 1918 name three movie theaters then operating in Caruthers; the Exchange, the Dixie, and the Liberty. Any of these might have been the 1916 project, but any of them might also have been the Gem under an earlier name.

Architect M. E. Worcester also designed a theater in Cape Girardeau in 1916, though I’ve been unable to track down its name or discover if the project was ever carried out.

Bill2 on June 17, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Caruthersville at one time had 3 operating theaters. The Rodgers on 3rd st, the Stadium and Gem on Ward Ave. Both Stadium and Gem were in the same block. All gone now. Stadium is still standing but is now a woodworking shop.

Bill2 on December 12, 2004 at 12:02 am

I lived in Caruthersville, during the 80’s and early 90’s. The GEM was open then. It showed 2nd run movies. The seats were red and rocked. It closed sometime in the 90’s not the 50’s. It was not white brick. The one just up the street is probably the one you are referring to. IT was called the Stadium, I think. The GEM had been a grocery store before becoming a theater.