|Early storefront photo. Work will be done in 2017 to restore the storefront configuration. The marquee and flag will not be added until the mail theater is completed.|
The Historic Lyric Building
What once was, and what has yet to be......
The Lyric Opera House was built in 1912 and has a long history of community gatherings, presentations by local and touring companies, vaudeville and movies. The building was designed by Ellerbe, Round and Sullivan and housed the local YMCA, a radio station, the VFW, and a 580 seat theater. The theater held traveling Vaudeville acts until 1932 and featured performers including Mae West, W.C. Fields, and Boris Karloff. Paramount Studios purchased the building in 1935 and began showing movies. As a movie theater it was called The State, and was active up until 1955. The space was then used for several retail outlets such as jewelry stores, a music shop, a TV shop, Virginia Floral (until the 1980's), Brownie Furniture, ice cream parlors, a pizza shop, a photography studio, and hardware store.
Click here to view the architects report on exterior rehabilitation needs including in-depth history of the Lyric's place in the commericail district of Virginia MN!
As the story has been told, the daughter of one of the original owners, Mrs. Flier, decided to put the building up for sale in the early 60's but did not have any luck finding a potential buyer. She removed the original theater seats, took down the marquee in 1961, and sold off any theater equipment she could and a few years later she finally sold the theater to a gentleman with a vision of having a movie theater back on the main street. After struggling to keep up with maintaining such a large building the gentleman put it up for sale in the 90's. A couple of bar owners downtown offered to buy the building with the intention of tearing it down and replacing it with a parking lot.
(The original fire curtain still hangs in the Theater and is a work of art from Twin Cities Scenic Studios.)
The Laurentian Arts and Culture Alliance (LACA) was formed and incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation in 1998 and purchased the building to save it from being razed, and renamed it the Lyric Center for the Arts. With the structure secured LACA began to remodel a small portion of the building into an art gallery and small performance stage, called The First Stage, which was opened in 2006. Since then the organization and its patrons have grown substantially and the space is no longer used for performance and has become known as The First Stage Gallery. Currently the IRRRB & SPP, two member organizations, are performing at the Lyric Annex, a performance space in a City-owned building adjacent to the Lyric Center.
The vision for the Lyric Center is to renovate the entire building with the historic 1912 ambiance. Thanks to donations from people like you we have completed the concept design and budget for total renovation. Now we are moving forward in reconstructing the historic storefront, including seven doorways in their original locations so we can meet ADA and building codes for future renovations. Immediately following that, plans are being developed for a lobby and creating a 100 seat performance space for children's theater, musicians and other live events.
Before we can start on the small performance venue and new lobby we need to reconstruct seven doorways across the front of the building. The estimated budget for this work is $220,000. Grant funding has been secured, however we need local support to make this happen! Make a donation today!
The Lyric Center will provide a home for numerous area artists and arts organizations as well as provide a 500 seat accessible venue for local and touring music and theatrical productions. Added benefits would be the Ballroom & Lounge that will provide a unique venue for wedding receptions, small conferences and other events taking place in the community. The organization will draw tourists and professionals into our area and result in a significant economic boost.
Concept drawings from HGA show how the Lyric will be used.
The future theater lobby & art gallery space.
The view from the back of the house!
The future view from the balcony.
The view from a box seat.
The future ballroom at the Lyric!
The lounge area at the Lyric!
All renovations are made possible through grant funding and donations made from people like you!