Jefferson Opera House

getStaticImage-20This is the Jefferson Opera House which sat at the corner of 6th and Main, NW. about 100 years ago*.

DSC_3608Today, the corner looks like this. In both images, you can see the same top story window of the old Albemarle Hotel to the far left (known as The Gleason Hotel back then). You can also see the Baptist Church on 6th Street in the old photograph (barely visible just beyond the fly loft of the theater) and the same church with later renovations in the current day photo.

img516This image from the Norris Collection at CHIL shows the 600 block of West Main, with the Gleason Hotel in the middle of the block and the Jefferson Opera House on the far corner. The image is from a high resolution scan of a photo-postcard with a postmark of 1906.

*Note: There is some debate about the date of the first image.  K. Edward Lay, in his excellent book, The Architecture of Jefferson Country, dates the image 1915 and suggests that the building pictured has been newly constructed after a fire. The UVA library dates the image 1916. However, on close examination, the signage on the side of the building and at the grocery store next door, advertise beer, wine, and liquor, the sale of which was outlawed within the Charlottesville city limits in 1907 .

Update:  Our research has found that the Jefferson Opera House (or “Jefferson Auditorium” as it was called back then) was destroyed by fire on Thanksgiving Day, 1907.  The adjacent Baptist Church, on 6th Street was also damaged in the fire)

Top image courtesy UVA Library with edits by CHIL. Postcard photo from the Norris Collection at CHIL. Current day image by Trumbull Photography.

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