A Century Old Theatre That’s Trying to Make a Comeback

The Lyric Center for the Arts was built in 1911

VIRGINIA, Minn. –  A century old theater is making a come back.

The arts play a significant role in any town, especially one like Virginia, Minnesota.

“The theater opened in 1912, in January, and to a full house and rave reviews,” Lyric executive directory Mary McReynolds said.

In 1912, the Lyric Center for the Arts was one of several stops on a vaudeville circuit in what was once a booming theatre town.

“There was this very much cooperative spirit in town about the entertainment that came,” McReynolds said.

In the 30’s it was bought by Paramount Studios and was named The State Movie Theater.

For half a century, the theater was vacant. The front became a retail space home to several stores, and when nobody stepped up and bought it, the Lyric was left in the dust. Until 1998 when its current owners took over.

“We felt that there was enough need in the arts community and the Quad Cities and the Iron Range to have a space dedicated to the arts,” McReynolds said.

They saw the building’s potential. But after almost everything from the original was ripped away, they knew it’d be a long road to restoring the historic structure.

“The only reason we still have the fire curtain is because it was all the way up and they didn’t see it there,” McRynolds said.

The first thing they did was put on a new roof, they added a gallery, then rebuilt the front of the theater to look like it did in 1912.

“The main theater will be the very last piece that we do,” McRynolds said.

They still have plans to construct a new interior to the original 700 seat performance space.

“That’s the end game that we want to get to,” McRynolds said.

The Lyric Center for the Arts has events scheduled throughout the year in their gallery and shared space borrowed from the city. For more information, click here.

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