Lyric Theater is approved for exterior renovation


{}A piece of Magic City history - long forgotten - is being restored. The Lyric the city's first theater - is the center of a project bringing back an era of Birmingham's past. Birmingham's Design Review Committee gave the green light to renovation plans. The Lyric Theater which is right across the street from the Alabama Theater was built in 1914 as a Vaudeville house. It's been abandoned for decades and finally 100 years after it was built - it's coming back to life.{}"It's sort of like a place time had forgotten until very recently," Glenny Brock, Outreach Coordinator for Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. said.Behind the peeling paint and tattered walls- is a Magic City legend."It's just in the last couple of years when we started the restoration effort that people have even come to know it is here," Brock said.100 years ago this year, the Lyric theater hosted vaudeville greats."Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers, Milton Berle when he was a young stand-up comedian," Brock said."The Lyric has a place in Birmingham's civil rights history - It had segregated entrances and seating, but it was the only theater in downtown Birmingham where black and white audiences saw the same show at the same time," Brock said.The vaudeville house was later replaced by movie theaters and after being abandoned, fell into disrepair. But its former glory are coming back."We are standing in the call hall which is the lobby of the Lyric Theater," Brock said. "We have Sylacauga marble on the floors and all of the walls in here are Sylacauga marble. I think it's a fantastic place with a lot of architectural detail."Birmingham Landmark Inc. which also owns the Alabama Theater along with a slew of donors raised over $7 million {}to rebuild the Lyric.And Wednesday, the exterior renovation was approved. "Alabama has 2200 seats when the Lyric reopens it will have 750 but again the stage is almost twice as big so it can accommodate dance, opera, live theater, live music," Brock said.{}For more information, visit