Jeffris Opens
ŠTed Schaar 2016

The Jeffris opens

Among the many surprises researching the history of Janesville movie theaters presented was that the one my friends and I visited most —the Jeffris—opened in 1924,83 way earlier than I imagined.

A panel ad in the Gazette stated it cost $250,000,84 which is equivalent to more than $3.4 million in 2015 dollars.
85  This seems ridiculously high. 

Another ad that appeared in the September 13, 1924, Gazette claimed the Jeffris had 1500 seats, “each visually perfect.” 86

Costing $30,000 apiece, according to the ad, were the “Golden Voiced Organ” and ventilation plant that “Pure Washed Air Continuously.” 87  In 2015 figures, these expenses total more than $832,000.


The expressive, versatile, and expensive organs that were installed in Janesville theaters had their lives cut short by the advent of sound motion pictures in the late twenties.  A Gazette article from January 11, 1930, mentions that the Jeffris and Beverly were modified “to accommodate talkies.” 89

In the same edition, a panel ad for the Jeffris promotes the new “Western Electric sound system” and the “perfection of acoustics and installation of the latest, most sensitive lenses for use in the projection room.”


For a sampling of movies that were advertised in Janesville at about the time the Jeffris opened and around a decade before the Hays Office began wagging its particularly anti-sex finger, click here.

Talkies accomodated at Jeffris.
By 1930, smaller theaters, from the pioneering

Electric to the Majestic, were gone.
Myers, Beverly, Jeffris ticket stubs ca. 1929, 1930
The above are from a scrapbook compiled by a
a Milton, Wisconsin, high school student
  date to 1929 and '30. It's possible the
Jeffris stub was handed back to
her by one of the ushers
pictured to the right.

Click for larger image and
more information.

Jeffris marquee RCHS image
The first Jeffris entrance and marquee.  Photograph was taken on
October 10, 1924,
about a week after the theater opened.

Click for close views.

Jeffris Janesville senior high school yearbook 1929
Letters on the marquee are reversed meaning the
graph was inserted incorrectly which probably caused
some student staff anxiety when noticed too late to
correct. The line might read, “Movie Tone News”—a
 popular newsreel service in the United States
 between 1928 and 1963. Probably the
ushers pictured were born in the
early nineteen teens.


Beverly  Projectors



Hotel Monterey