Jefferson Theater

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The Jefferson Theater, 2008

Coordinates:Erioll world.svg.png 38°1′50″N 78°28′52.5″W / 38.03056°N 78.48125°W / 38.03056; -78.48125

The Jefferson Theater, located on the Downtown Mall, is Charlottesville's oldest theater.


The building that now houses the Jefferson Theater was originally built in 1901 as a bank.[1] It was then sold and reopened in 1912 as a "live performance theater that played host to silent movies, vaudeville acts and a historic list of live performers, ranging from Harry Houdini to The Three 
Stooges." [2]

The theater was damaged in a fire in 1915 and renovated by C. K. Howell, the architect who also designed the architecture of the Empire and National theaters in Richmond. [1]

In a 1924 issue of the Daily Progress, Cora Murray Duke was thanked for the success of the Juilee Concert that had been held at the theater, with the proceeds used to furnish beds in the colored wards of the UVA Hospital.

The theater was closed for a time in 1925 and reopened on October 3 of that year. [3]

In 1935, there was a plan for the Dominion Theaters to take over both the Lafayette and the Jefferson Theater. At that time, Dominion operated all of the Paramount theaters in Virginia. [4]

In 1969, a group of local businessmen purchased the building and re-named it the Cinema Theater and by the late 1970s it had acquired a reputation for showing so many x-rated films that locals nicknamed it "the Skinema." [1]

In 1983, owner Alton Martin sealed off the mezzanine to create the upstairs theater, renamed it the "Movie Palace," and began showing second-run films. [1] Martin passed away and Hawes Spencer purchased the building in 1992. [1]

The building's most recent renovations were begun after its June 2006 closing. It was the result of a purchase by Coran Capshaw.[5]

The theater reopened on November 27, 2009, with a concert by the band Sons of Bill. [6]


The architectural style of the both the interior and the exterior of the Jefferson Theater are Adam-style Classicism, known for classical Roman decorative motifs. [1]

Since the 2009 remodeling, the Jefferson Theater has been equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, new restrooms, a restored balcony, and two full-service bars. [2]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Web. Star reborn: Jefferson readied for next act, Dave McNair, The Hook, Better Publications LLC, 24 Aug 2006, retrieved May 24, 2024.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Web. Theater Information, The Jefferson Theater, 2011, retrieved 28 Feb 2012.
  3. Web. New Jefferson Open Tomorrow, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, October 2, 1925, retrieved October 2, 2022. Print. October 2, 1925 page 1.
  4. Web. Paramount Firm Dickers for Two Local Theaters, Daily Progress Digitized Microfilm, Lindsay family, September 27, 1935, retrieved September 26, 2022. Print. September 27, 1935 page 1.
  5. Web. Mall theater almost ready to rock ‘n’ roll, Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress, Lee Enterprises, Sept. 13 2009
  6. Web. Jefferson Theater to open November 27, Vijith Assar, The Hook, Better Publications LLC, November 10, 2009, retrieved May 24, 2024. Print. November 12, 2009 , 845, .

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