Jefferson Theater

Back
  • Jeffersontheater

Jefferson Theater

(site of)

112 Free Street

The heyday of the Jefferson Theater lasted from its opening in 1897 until about 1910. Actresses who performed there included Lillian Russell, Marie Dressler, Ethel Barrymore, Maude Adams, Lily Langtree, and Maine native, Maxine Elliott. World-famous actress Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) came to Portland twice, once in 1906 with her husband and business manager, Portland native Edward J. Sullivan. The Ancient Order of Hibernians graciously stepped aside from its own booking to accommodate a performance by Bernhardt. During her second appearance in 1911, she performed "La Dame Aux Camelias" at the Jefferson. Orchestra conductor Juanita Guptill, another Maine woman, performed at parties and other events with her Juanita Guptill's Gypsy Girls. The elaborate and richly decorated theater was used for airing movies in its later years, and by the time the Jefferson closed with a performance, ironically, of "Little Women" in 1933, it was used mainly for burlesque shows and movies.