The Storied History of the Lyric Theatre

Old Lyric - Count BasieVibrant. Alive. The place to be and be seen. Between 1948 and 1963, the Lyric Theatre was a thriving entertainment centerpiece for Lexington’s African-American families.

Originally built as a movie house, the Lyric opened at the corner of Third and Deweese Street (now Elm Tree Lane) in Lexington. And it quickly became a cultural icon.

Everyone has his or her favorite memory – the movies, fashion shows, vaudeville acts, local concerts,
pageants – but during the ‘50s it was Jazz, Soul and R&B music that took center stage, with big-name acts like Ray Charles and Count Basie.

Old Lyric - Cartoon Playbill

Soulful sounds filled the theatre with other notable performers including: B.B. King; Wynonie Harris, who wrote Good Rocking Tonight, recorded by Elvis Presley; Mercer Ellington, the only son of Duke Ellington; and Billy Brown, formerly of the Dominos, who formed The Checkers and began recording for King Records.

Entertainment wasn’t the only draw. Numerous small black-owned business – from clothing stores to ice cream shops – were launched in and around the theatre.

Before closing in 1963, the theatre returned to its roots as a movie theatre, featuring horror films and black cowboy movies plus Saturday morning cartoons.

The new Lyric offers much more than a chance to relive history. It’s bigger and better than ever. And it promises to be as popular as it was 50 years ago.

Old Lyric - Count Basie

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-Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010-

Ribbon-cutting by Mayor Jim Newberry, 10:15 a.m.
Movie, field trip, tour and art project for elementary schools. Cost $1.

-September 24, 2010

 Tickets to Lyric Reopening on Sale
Business Lexington Article

-September 15, 2010- 

Celebrating the Lyric
Business Lexington Article

-September 10, 2010- 

 Excitement Building as Reopening of Lyric Theatre Draws Near
WKYT Article

-August 25, 2010-

 Grand reopening Celebration Planned for Lyric
WKYT Article

-August 25, 2010- 

Lyric Theatre plans October Reopening Celebration
Herald Leader Article

-August 24, 2010-

 Lyric Theatre to Reopen in late October
Business Lexington Article

-November 3, 2009-

Private Sector looks to Hold Up Its End of Lyric Theatre with Programming Kick-Off
Business Lexington Article

July 17, 2009 – Lyric Theatre’s Revival Raises Neighborhood’s Hopes
Herald Leader Article

-July 16, 2009-

Lyric Groundbreaking Set for 10 am Thursday
Herald Leader Article

-March 11, 2009-

 Private Sector looks to Hold Up Its End of Lyric Theatre with Programming Kick-Off

Business Lexington Article