Jefferson Theater

61 State Street,
Auburn, NY 13021

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New Jefferson Theater...Auburn New York

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The New Jefferson Theater was opened in November 1908, with 1,600 seats. By 1941 it was part of the Schine Circuit. It continued to operate until at least 1950.

It was later demolished and a Budget Inn now stands on the site

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 28, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Here is a June 18, 2006 article about some former Auburn, NY theaters.

“Reminiscing about Auburn’s theaters

Source: The Citizen
By Carmelo Signorelli

In my last article, as submitted, I said that the Burtis Auditorium was on Water Street. When the article was published, Water Street somehow became West Street.

For purposes of clarification only, not criticism, I would like to again state that the Burtis Auditorium, which later became the Strand theater, was located on Water Street. All three theaters of the period I referred to – the Strand, Jefferson and Palace – were in the downtown area.

The Jefferson was on State Street, around the corner from the Strand. It was a quality theater and was built around 1910 for vaudeville and other stage shows. However, it soon added movies to its programs, and I recall being taken there several times in the late ‘20s to see a feature film and several acts of vaudeville.

When I was a child, our family lived for a short time on a street behind the Jefferson. Several of us mischievous neighborhood boys of 6 and 7 years of age would sometimes look in a basement window of the theater at performers in a basement dressing room. If we were seen by the performers, we would be yelled at, and we’d beat a hasty retreat. Ah well, boys will be boys.

After a few years, with the increasing popularity of motion pictures, the Jefferson became strictly a movie theater. It became part of the Schine chain of theaters and showed the better-rated films. The Strand, also a Schine theater, showed both A and B movies and serials.

The Palace, at 60 Genesee St., was another Schine theater and offered a variety of fare, including reruns. It was previously the Universal theater and before then, the Morgan theater.

During the time that there were three movie theaters downtown, there was a fourth theater, at 20 North Street, which was closed. I used to wonder about it and later learned that it had been the Burtis Grand. Originally, it was the Burtis Opera House and had been built in 1889 on the site of the Academy of Music.

The Burtis Grand was reopened around 1930 or so as a movie theater and was renamed the Capitol. It was not part of the Schine chain as were the other three theaters.

To compete with the established Schine theaters, the Capitol charged lower admission prices – 10 cents for adults and 5 cents for children. When it began getting its share of business, it raised prices so that they were more in line with those of the competition".

spectrum on September 29, 2007 at 7:40 pm

The Jefferson seated 1,300.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on October 1, 2007 at 7:33 am

A Link theater organ was installed in the Jefferson Theater in 1926.

spectrum on October 17, 2009 at 4:27 pm

This theatre looks from the google photos to be demolished.

InesitadaSilva on January 29, 2011 at 3:02 am

Thanks to Lost Memory for posting the Citizen piece.

I would like to complement that with a clipping from 1926 which echoes the third paragraph: “a quality theater …for vaudeville and other stage shows. However, it soon added movies to its programs.”

My grandmother was an acrobat act that was one of those other stage show programs and a short preview for her acrobat troupe can be seen here: View link

More about my grandmother’s vaudeville adventures in America are detailed here: View link

I should like to thank one of CT’s denizens who found this newsclipping very kindly on my behalf.

I hope it shall be useful to others!

PS.A photo of the Jefferson would be very much appreciated!

TLSLOEWS on March 13, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Should be listed as A.K.A. New Jefferson Theatre,thanks for posting Don.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on February 13, 2012 at 5:02 am

It’s very likely that the New Jefferson was the theater referred to in this item in the July 29, 1908, issue of The American Architect and Building News:

“We learn from despatches that Architect Arland C. Johnson, of Toledo, Ohio, is at work on plans for a handsome new theater for Mose Reis to be located at Auburn.”
Aside from getting the architect’s middle initial wrong, this report was probably reliable. Entertainment magazine The Billboard reported (belatedly) on the scheduled opening of the New Jefferson Theatre in its issue of December 12, 1908:
“After making preparations for the past six months, the opening of the New Jefferson Theatre, Auburn, N. Y., will occur November 23 with Eddie Foy in Mr. Hamlet of Broadway. The theatre contains all the latest and most modern improvements of the day. It will be managed by J. O. Brooks, formerly of the Majestic Theatre, Utica, N. Y. The theatre is on the Reis Circuit and has a seating capacity of 1,600.”

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