When it opened its doors on December 10, 1948, the Lyric Theatre and its marquee lit up the corner of E. Third Street and DeWeese Street (now Elm Tree Lane). Built at a cost of $250,000, the original theatre was a blend of Art Deco and Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
This leading entertainment center in the African-American community hosted first-run films, black films and entertainers including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, The Ink Spots, Redd Foxx and The Temptations.
The Lyric's decline began with the integration of Lexington's other theaters. The theatre closed in 1963. (Source: Cinema Treasurers)
Lyric reopens amid grand celebration
GTV3 VIDEO: Lyric Theatre reopens
Historical look at Lyric(Video)
GTV3's look at the Lyric
Lyric's Facebook page
|Lyric is symbolic of East End's rebirth
Inside the new Lyric theatre.
|Dilapidated building defined neighborhood in the past; new building will help recovery
“I never attended the Lyric so I hold no fond memories of it,” says Thomas Tolliver, East End activist and former newspaper reporter.
“The Lyric was already closed when I came to Lexington in 1980. Since moving to the East End in 1994, I had grown to hate the mere sight of that decrepit building because I thought it tarnished the entire neighborhood, sitting there with its crumbling facade, right there at the central gateway into my neighborhood.
“I can't count the times I've driven past it and wished it were not even there. For 20 years I had heard rumblings about fixing up the Lyric and reopening it but I was one of the skeptics. I never thought it would happen, and I said so. Imagine my surprise, and my delight, to see that decrepit building transformed into something beautiful.
“I welcome the re-opening of the Lyric but not for what it will mean for my social life or for the social life of other Lexingtonians,” Tolliver says. “I welcome the re-opening of the Lyric because of what it does for the image and indeed the spirit of the East End neighborhood. To me, it says the East End is on the rise again.
“In its dilapidated state, the Lyric defined the neighborhood. It said ‘Here's a neighborhood whose heyday has come and gone.’ Just as the dilapidated Lyric held the neighborhood back, I'm optimistic that the refurbished Lyric will propel the neighborhood forward. I'm hopeful that once again East Third Street will become a destination for people rather than merely a corridor by which to escape downtown. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE