Jefferson Theater Celebrates a Century of Entertaining - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Jefferson Theater Celebrates a Century of Entertaining

Posted: Updated: Oct 21, 2012 11:27 PM EDT

The Jefferson Theater on Charlottesville's downtown mall turned 100 Sunday night. The theater opened its doors for a free concert to celebrate a century of entertaining crowds in central Virginia.

"It was originally a vaudeville theater with silent movies as well, and then it transformed over the years to a movie house," explained Collean Laney, the Jefferson's general manager.

Though it's now a rock 'n' roll club, the building on Charlottesville's downtown mall hasn't changed much since 1912.

"Everything you see in the rotunda is original to the building," said Laney. "When you walk into the theater you'll see our original opera boxes on each side, as well as the stage is completely original to the building."

The stage has hosted countless vaudeville acts and even famed magician Harry Houdini in its earlier days. The Dave Matthews Band performed there before becoming a national name.

Charlottesville natives Sons of Bill took the stage for a free concert Sunday night to celebrate the century milestone. Frontman James Wilson says the Jefferson helps make Charlottesville a music destination.

"We've always had interim clubs. You know we had Star Hill and we had Satellite. But it's really cool that now we've got restoring the Jefferson Theater and kind of this permanent historical rock club," he said.

Laney says no matter how you remember the Jefferson, it has a place in Charlottesville history.

"Everyone here, around here, that you see on the downtown mall tonight knows the Jefferson Theater in some way. They've been to a movie here when they were a kid, or their parents took them to a movie here." She said. "It's a real institution on this mall and I cannot wait to see what the next hundred years is because the first hundred have been amazing."

Sunday night's concert keeps with a tradition since the theater's rebirth as a rock 'n' roll club. Sons of Bill played the first show when the Jefferson reopened after an extensive renovation in 2009.

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