Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Vincentennial: Your Guide to the Vincent Price Landmarks of St Louis

Well Vincentennial maybe over, but I still have some interesting posts to share with you all. The day before Victoria Price's Reflections From A Daughter presentation, I got the chance to explore Vincent's hometown of St Louis by bike. Along the way I discovered his childhood home, where he went to school, his father's candy factory and the theatre he performed in years after he had become an established actor. So here's my guide to those places. Check them out when you next find yourself in this gem of a city.

The National Candy Company Building (4230 Gravois Avenue)
This building was built in 1928 by Vincent's dad Vincent Leonard Price who was the president of the National Candy Company, the largest candy company in the world at the time which specialised in jawbreakers and jelly beans. There's a vibrantly colourful logo featuring candy imagery hanging over the front entrance. Currently the building is up for sale for 3.5million dollars. If only I had the cash, this would an ideal place for a permament VP museum.

Vincent Price's Boyhood Home (6320 Forsyth Boulevard)
When Vincent was born May 27 1911, his family lived on Washington Avenue but had this home built in 1923. Inside are many bedrooms, a grand staircase in the entrance way, a Chinese modern sunroom and assorted studies and 'private' rooms. The Washington University School of Architecture is across the street from the Price family home and built not long after the Price's moved in. Vincent's mother, Marguerite considered the building an eyesore and she complained constantly to the University about its design. Vincent left St Louis to attend Yale in 1929, while his parents spent the remainder of their lives in this hime. During the Vincentennial, many of the film screenings were held at Brown Hall auditorium on the Washinton University campus across the street from Price's boyhood home. Prior to a screening of Witchfinder General, I got the chance to perform Poe's poem The Conqueror Worm before a packed audience. What a thrill that was.

Vincent Price's High School (101 N Warson Road)
Vincent attended St Louis Country Day School from 1923 until he graduated in 1928. At the time, the school was located where the Lambert Field Airport currently sits. His first acting role was as part of the school's theatre group, the Troubadors and the first play he was in was Pickles, as part of the chorus. In 1958 Country Day moved to its current location, which Vincent visited in 1984 to accept the school's Distinguished Alumnus Award, and was merged with the all-girl's school next door in 1991 to become MICDS (Mary Institute Country Day School). The black box style theatre in the upper school at MICDS was built in 1989 and named in honor of its famous alumnus in October 1992. During the Vincentennial, Price's daughter Victoria had a personal tour of the shcool, and got a chance to see some of the archive materials kept there about her dad. She was chuffed to learn that her Dad's grades weren't that good.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard)
This wonderfully ornate theatre is a great homage to old Hollywood grandeur, and looks just as it did when Vincent's first film, Service De Luxe premiered here in 1938.

The Muny Opera (1 Theatre Drive)
The Muny is the largest outdoor theatre in the US. Located in Forest Park, and within walking distance of Vincent's boyhood home. It is also where Price peformed as Martin Gunther in the St Louis premiere of The American Way in June, 1940, which featured some 250 in the cast, and a large number of American troops marching through the Arc de Triumphe. Price returned to star here as Applegate in Damn Yankees in 1978 and as Fagin in Oliver! in 1976.

The Way Out Club (2525 S Jefferson Ave)
This popular music/bar venue is where Tom Stockman, organiser of Vincenntenial, holds his weekly Super-8 shows, many of which feature Vincent's old movies. I had a great time during the 100th birthday celebrations catching trailers from the old Poe movies, a 3D version of The Mad Magician, and a great 16mm print of Dr Goldfoot & the Girl Bombs. Check out their Facebook or MySpace pages for the latest listings.

Vincent Price's Star on the St Louis Walk of Fame (6509 Delmar)
Embedded in the sidewalk along Delmar Boulevward in the Loop area of University City is Vincent's star, one of many commemorating the life and achievements of famous St Louisan. Joe Edwards, proprietor of the rock 'n' roll restaurant/music venue Blueberry Hill, conceived the idea and its great way to remember names like Phyllis Diller, Tennesee Williams and Chuck Berry, who still performs in the city. Vincent was inducted in June 25, 1989, the first year the Walk of Fame was established.

Coming soon! I'm currently editing a audio video tour of St Louis, which features shots from the Vincentennial and Vincent Price landmarks. I'll let you all know as soon as I post it on YouTube.


Richard D Squires said...

This is wonderful, Peter! So glad you made it to all the important places!

Jane Considine said...

Hi Peter,

Nice post. It was great to talk to you at the exhibit. I had a great time at all of the events I attended, and it's cool that I'm seeing that so many others had a fantastic time as well.

Rusty1024 said...

Great Synopsis Peter and great meeting you in St. Louis. Too bad you didn't make it over to Cahokia Indian Mound. It's a huge Dirt Megalith thousands of years old built by a mysterious Native American culture known as "The Mound Builders". Young Vincent spent much time there finding arrowheads, pottery and other artifacts.

Jaz Dorsey said...

This was so cool. Working on a play about Vincent and Edgar Allan Poe and this is great for our research! Thanks so much. Jaz Dorsey, The Actors Reading Room, Nashville, Tennessee

Meg Murphy said...

Thank you.

Our family is going to St Louis, and visiting the spots of Vincent's youth is on the list of things to do. The year is 2016, and if you google Vincent Price, St Louis your page seems to be the most comprehensive.