On a glorious spring post-Passover pre-Easter Friday, I’m thinking about the fantastic tour I had of the Lyric Theatre earlier this week. For those that don’t know, the Lyric is one of the few surviving Vaudeville theatres in the South, and one of only three intact historic theatres remaining in Birmingham (the Alabama and Carver being the other two). In order for us to have a real Theatre District, we must get this beautiful theatre renovated. Birmingham Landmarks, which owns and operates the Alabama, is getting ready to launch this renovation effort; the community must get behind it.
I was also able to tour the office building connected to the theatre. Almost 100 years old, the 6-story building is amazing: original doors with glass transoms above, terrazzo floors, original wood moldings. It has been vacant for 30 years along with the theatre, and will hopefully be brought back to life as well.
Theatres are essential to any city’s cultural life. To me personally, the Lyric is the ideal size not just for special concerts and plays, but as a regular home for the symphony, the ballet, and the opera–all of which perform currently in less-than-ideal venues.
One thing is for sure: we don’t want the Lyric to end up like the many other historic theatres nearby that were demolished by the 1980s. As a sober reminder of this sad history, I present this shot below of the Ritz Theatre under demolition one block away on 2nd Avenue in 1982. Birmingham, this time let’s preserve a much-needed venue (the Alabama has to turn away hundreds of events a year and this would help).
Oh by the way, where the Ritz used to stand? It’s a parking lot now.