The Lyric opened in 1913 as a magnificent vaudeville house and later, after the death of vaudeville and the coming of the Great Depression, became a second-run movie house. After closing in 1958, the Lyric suffered from years of neglect. The Lyric is owned by Birmingham Landmarks, Inc., the not-for-profit that also owns and operates the Alabama Theatre, which is located just across Third Avenue from the Lyric.
"It's very exciting that people are finally recognizing what the people in the arts community have known for a long time," Holly Burrow of Birmingham Landmarks says in reaction to the Lyric's designation. "We are excited about the list, because it's good not just for the people in the city to learn about the Lyric, but around the state. When they come up to see the Alabama, they'll wanna see the Lyric."
According to Burrow, she and Cecil Whitmire, Alabama Theatre general manager, are hopeful that the Lyric's inclusion on the list will help to galvanize local support for the renovation. "I hope that this gets some more attention brought to the whole situation," Burrow says. "We want to get some community leaders in on this. We've e-mailed the list to everybody we can think of."
The renovation of the venue cannot come to soon, especially given additional recent damage to the structure caused by a leaking roof. The leaks have caused the mortar in the bricks on the back of the building to deteriorate, and some of the brick have fallen off, according to Burrow. "The weatherproofing guys have come out," she says. "We're just repairing what needs to be done. We will get the roof replaced at some point."
Birmingham Weekly has written about the Lyric before in "The voice of the theatre" and "Holiday open house at Alabama and Lyric."
A set of panoramic postcards featuring Bradford Daly's photographs of the Lyric Theatre are available for purchase through the Alabama Theatre gift shop, with a portion of the proceeds going to the restoration of the Lyric.