January 14, 2016
Shuttered for decades, the Lyric Theatre in Birmingham reopened after a successful fundraising campaign to renovate the century-old theater. The “Light Up the Lyric” effort raised about $7.4 million, allowing restoration that returned the theater to its original luster. When the Lyric originally opened in January 1914, it was considered the most lavish theater in the city with ornate balconies and wall ornamentation. The theater was the first to use artificial cooling with fans blowing air over two tons of ice stored under the stage and toward the audience. Today, the venue maintains the close seating and excellent acoustics needed before sound systems were introduced.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama and Alabama NewsCenter.
This view depicts Birmingham’s Third Avenue North, looking eastward from 18th Street in 1959, when the thoroughfare was filled with movie palaces. The Lyric Theatre, now a performance space, is located at the far left. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the Birmingham Public Library)
The Lyric Theatre in Birmingham in 1930. The venue opened in 1914 and was among the first theaters to allow African-Americans to attend films. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the Birmingham Public Library)
The interior of the Lyric Theatre in downtown Birmingham has been restored to its former “movie palace” splendor. The theater now hosts live performances as it did at its founding in 1914. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, photo courtesy of the Alabama NewsCenter)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.