Built St. Louis > > Vanished Buildings || Historic Downtown > > The Ambassador Theater

The Ambassador Building in an older photograph, and the elaborate theater within.

The Ambassador Building
Architect: Rapp & Rapp
Built: 1926
Demolished: 1996

In 1996, St. Louis lost an incredible resource with the demolition of the Ambassador Building.

Located at the northwest corner of 7th and Locust, at the foot of the Mercantile Bank building, the Ambassador was, in its day, perhaps the most spectacular of the St. Louis movie palaces, easily in league with the Fox. It was the last remaining movie palace in downtown.

The theater portion of the building closed in 1976 after a number of years as a venue for rock concerts. The seventeen stories of offices above remained viable for many years afterwards. However, efforts to find an operator for the theater failed; after ten years of trying to renovate the building, its owner ultimately stripped it of its elaborate interior decor, which was then auctioned off.

Several years later, the adjacent Mercantile Bank flexed its financial muscle, and got the city to grant a demolition permit. Demolition began in March of 1996. Half of the building's upper floors were already gone when I first encountered it that spring.

Bonus: Photographs of the Ambassador while still intact, from photographer Toby Weiss. Click here to start this side trip.

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