345 Fannin Street,
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The Jefferson Theatre (Official)
Previously operated by: Saenger Amusement Company
Architects: Emile Weil
Functions: Community Arts Center, Live Theater, Movies
Styles: Italian Renaissance
Opened on November 14, 1927 with Mary Astor in “Rose of the Golden West”. Operated by the Saenger chain, the Jefferson Theatre (named for Beaumont’s position as Jefferson’s county seat), the theatre was designed by the circuit’s house architect, the prodigious Emile Weil, who also designed such noted Saenger palaces as the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, the Saenger Theatre in Pensacola, Florida, and the Strand Theatre in Shreveport, the Saenger’s hometown.
The Jefferson Theatre was one of the few Weil designs where he did not incorporate the letter "S" for the circuit into the exterior and interior design, though the theatre was no less ornate than the rest of the Saenger’s mid-sized houses of the 1920’s.
The Jefferson Theatre contained a 3 manual, 8 rank Robert Morton organ, opened by organist Alice Richland (which has since been lovingly restored to its original condition).
After decades as the city’s premier movie house, the Jefferson Theatre declined in popularity, and was eventually shuttered. However, beginning in the early-1990’s, a campaign to restore the theatre was kicked off, and has been underway ever since.
Restoration was completed in 2005, and the Jefferson Theatre is currently home to both community theatre and other live stage performances.
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Recent comments (view all 12 comments)
You can see a beautiful print at this link:
Another print – this time of the interior with children at a talent show (may be slow to load):
The Jefferson Theater was owned by The Jefferson Amusement Company, which was run by Mr. Julius Gordon.
The Jefferson Theater has now been lovingly restored and some films and theater events are being held.
In 1937, Jefferson Amusements owned the Rio Theater in Beaumont. I’m not sure if this was a predecessor of the Jefferson or a separate theater.
This was the theater where KTRM Radio DJ Jape “The Big Bopper” Richardson set the record for on-air DJing: 122 hours and 8 minutes, playing a total of 1,821 records! That was in May 1957; the following year, he struck gold with a little ditty he wrote and recorded called “Chantilly Lace”.
The Jefferson Theatre has a new website: www.beaumont-tx-complex.com/jeffersontheatre.html Apparently the Jefferson is now part of the Beaumont Civic Center Complex, which consists of several buildings.
Pictures of the interior… View link
Excellent photos of the grand re-opening in 2003. http://www.savetheorgan.org/jefferson/index.htm
Lots of childhood memories associate with the Jefferson. Loved looking at the chandelier and statues. Favorite movie experience was “House on Haunted Hill” which I also saw at the Temple in Meridian, Mississippi. Ten year old boys and a horror movie; doesn’t get better than that!
The Jefferson theatre opened on November 14th, 1927. Grand opening ad posted.