In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Bath's Historic Downtown

Dreamland and Liberty

Text by Frazier Metcalf and Deion Osmond
7th grade students from Bath Middle School
Images from the Patten Free Library

Where the Dreamland Theater was in Bath there is now a grocery store parking lot. The grocery store is called Brackett's Market and it has absolutely nothing to do with entertainment.

Dreamland Theater, Front Street, Bath, ca. 1910
Dreamland Theater, Front Street, Bath, ca. 1910

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

The Dreamland opened in 1909 on 177 Front Street. It was given a false front to make the building look bigger. The theatre changed its name in 1919 to the Liberty Theatre, to honor the end of World War I. After the Liberty Theatre closed in 1923, the building then became the Liberty Garage in 1924 because automobiles were becoming more popular and they needed more places to park downtown. Eventually, the building was torn down to make a parking lot.

The people associated with the Dreamland were Samuel Davis and William H. Van Dorn. Samuel Davis was the manager of the Dreamland from when it was built in 1909 to 1916. The following manager had the last name of Whittey. He was the manager from 1916 -1919. According to the Bath Daily Times of June 13th, 1912, William H. Van Dorn was a performer at the Dreamland. He held a chemistry show which was an original show. The performance was really popular and it often sold out. Archie N. Edgerly was the owner of the Liberty Theatre when it opened.

The Dreamland had many purposes. Bringing entertainment to the community and bringing business to Bath and surrounding areas were two of the most important. When tourists visited Bath they would want to see a play or a motion picture (in later years) at the Dreamland. This was one of the reasons the Dreamland had a successful profit margin, but this didn't last.

Liberty Theatre, Front Street, Bath, ca. 1923
Liberty Theatre, Front Street, Bath, ca. 1923

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

There were many important events at the Dreamland. The first major event was the grand opening, which occurred in 1909. The people that went there were amazed by the grandeur of its interior. From the floor to the ceiling, it was 24 feet high. The first motion picture that occurred at the Dreamland was The Great Train Robbery. The successful show ended up selling out. Another important event was the closing of the Dreamland, and the reopening as the Liberty Theater, which happened in 1919.

The Dreamland affected the history of Bath's entertainment. Probably everyone that was alive and lived in the area when the Dreamland was in business attended at least one event there. The Dreamland probably impacted how many tourists came to Bath. If they attended an event at the Dreamland such as a play or motion picture, they would most likely remember it fondly and probably come back to Bath for another visit. While numerous theaters were once part of Bath's downtown, none remain. Changing habits, the use of automobiles, and new technology killed these entertainment venues, once an important part of Bath's life.

Front Street postcard, Bath, ca. 1914
Front Street postcard, Bath, ca. 1914

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library