The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center
Open for virtual tours
After nearly 50 years of dormancy since its closing in 1963, The Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center is dedicated to honoring its past while maintaining a strong vision for the further development of the greater Lexington & Bluegrass community.
'The mission of the Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center is to preserve, promote, present, and celebrate diverse cultures through artistic presentations of the highest quality, educational programming and outreach, film, and opportunities for community inclusion.'
HISTORY OF THE LYRIC
Vibrant. 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.
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. Come see the beautiful facility and enjoy the modern age Lyric.