Jefferson Theatre

Jefferson Circle,
Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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Previously operated by: Greater Huntington Theatres

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Jefferson Theatre

The Jefferson Theatre was one of three or four Greater Huntington Theatre Corp. theatres which croped up in the Oak Ridge area during the era of the Manhattan Project. The Jefferson Theatre was opened on November 2, 1944 with Kathryn Grayson in “Thousands Cheer”. It was closed in 1950.

It briefly reopened as the Wayne Theatre. The building was destroyed by a fire in 1980.

Contributed by Jack Coursey

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

JackCoursey on August 4, 2005 at 5:48 pm

Jefferson Circle is the connect between Lincoln Rd and Jefferson Ave. There is some confusion about this theatre. Individuals who I have corresponded with from the Oak Ridge area claim that the Oak Ridge Playhouse was previously called the Jefferson. It might have been although I haven’t located any record to date with the same address as the playhouse that went by any other name than the Centre Theatre.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 30, 2009 at 9:38 pm

The Jefferson was the fourth theater opened in Oak Ridge. Its recent opening was announced in the November 4, 1944, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. The Ridge, Center, and Grove Theatres had already opened. All four were being managed for the Recreation and Welfare Section of the Clinton Engineering Works by Walter Morris, a Knoxville theater owner.

The September 1, 1945, issue of Boxoffice says that seven theaters had been built at Oak Ridge by that time. Only the Middletown and Jefferson theaters were mentioned by name. The July 10, 1948, issue said that the Middletown Theatre in Oak Ridge had closed due to lack of business.

The May 4, 1952, Boxoffice mentioned the Skyway and Elza Drive-Ins at Oak Ridge, but I’ve been unable to discover if they were built by 1945, so they might or night not have been the other two theaters in the town. I got the feeling the two missing theaters were hardtops, though. Oak Ridge reached a population of about 75,000 during the war and could easily have supported seven walk-in theaters.

In 1952, a segregated theater was opened at Oak Ridge. The February 2 issue of Boxoffice gives the name as the Gambles Valley Theatre, and the seating capacity as 338. The item said it was the first Negro theater in Oak Ridge. The May 3 issue of Boxoffice said that a theater had recently opened at Gamble Valley in Oak Ridge.

SeeingI on August 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

Following is a link to the Flickr page for the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, showing the Grove, Center, Jefferson and Ridge Theaters in Oak Ridge, all built by the Army Corps of Engineers for the Manhattan Project, 1942-1945. Also, the Skyway Drive-In, circa 1960s.

View link

bbrown1 on January 20, 2011 at 6:20 pm

The Jefferson Theater opened on November 2, 1944, showing THOUSANDS CHEER. According to an article in “The Oak Ridger” in 2009, the Jefferson Theater closed in 1950, and after that it was briefly reopened as the Wayne Theater. The building burned in 1980

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on March 1, 2011 at 6:41 pm

thanks for the many pictures Seeing1.

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