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Crawford Theater Photo (sort of)

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  • Bryan Cather
    p.sdfootnote { margin-left: 0.2in; text-indent: -0.2in; margin-bottom: 0in; font-size: 10pt; }p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }a.sdfootnoteanc { font-size: 57%; }
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 15, 2011
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    The Crawford Theater, at the corner of Fourteenth and Locust streets in St. Louis, was where Scott Joplin rehearsed his first (and now lost) opera, “A Guest of Honor” in August of 1903.1 Interestingly, the area along what is today known as Locust Street, west of 13th street was in the 1850s and 1860s,  an exclusive and expensive residential enclave known as “Lucas Place”. The eastern end of the development, from 13th street to 14th street, was a park, and one each side of the park was a large church: Christ Episcopal Church on the east end (where it remains) and on the west end, at Fourteenth and Locust, was First Presbyterian Church. At some point, most likely in the 1890s, the Presbyterians moved further west, and by the turn of the century the building became a succession of theaters. In 1901, it was, simply, the Fourteenth Street Theater2 A year later, it does not appear listed as a theater at all, and in 1903, the City Directory calls it the “Germania”3. By the 1904 directory, however, it is listed as the Crawford theater.4

    So why, if Joplin was rehearsing there in August of 1903, was it listed in the 1903 City Directory as the Germania? The answer lies in the time it took to compile and publish the annual Gould's City Directory. Most likely the building became the Germania sometime AFTER the information was compiled for the 1902 Directory, since there is no theater listed at that address in 1902, and became the Crawford sometime AFTER the information was compiled for the 1903 directory. Typically, information would have been gathered during the last quarter of the year, with publication at least attempted during the first quarter of the succeeding year. Since theater seasons typically run from late fall to early spring, and such a name change would have taken place in the off-season, a seeming discrepancy in the names is fairly easily explained.

    I've not yet found a photo of the Crawford theater building when it actually was a theater. However, I HAVE found, and attached, a photo of the building when it was First Presbyterian Church....which may be the best we can hope for, at least for now.

    Here's a link to the photo as well  http://collections.mohistory.org/photo/PHO:17037


    1Berlin, Edward. “King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era” 1994 Oxford University Press p.123

    2Gould “Saint Louis City Directory for 1901” pg 2542

    3Gould, “Saint Louis City Directory for 1903” pg ____

    4Gould, “Saint Louis City Directory for 1904” pg 2821

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