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Lyric Theater sees big changes

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

It's a historic theater that dates back more than sixty years, but its doors have been shut for decades. The Lyric Theater has been closed since 1963 after being one of the top entertainment centers in Lexington's African-American community. Today the building got a historic addition as construction continues.

At one time the Lyric Theater was the place to go for entertainment.

"This theater was the place to be and the place to be seen in 1948 when it opened in December", says Juanita Betz-Peterson, who is part of the Lyric Theater Task Force.

By 1963 the theater, which was seen as a cultural icon by many African-Americans in the community, shut its doors.

"When integration began to open doors for African-Americans at other theaters and facilities, somehow it began to go downhill so to speak", says Juanita Betz-Peterson.

The building could have been destroyed and the theater gone forever, but in 2005 a task force was appointed to make sure this wasn't the case.

At one time the Lyric Theater included famous acts such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, possibly even Ray Charles. Now they are hoping to bring this history alive again.

"People have been waiting a long time, many for decades even, so just a few more weeks. That's not too long to wait," says Shaye Rabold with the Mayor's Office.

As construction continues on the theater a major piece of the original building is now back.

"The original letters from the Lyric are going up today so it's very symbolic of a rebirth of the Lyric," says Shaye Rabold.

"It's heartwarming and it makes me proud as I'm sure it does everyone else to know it's gonna be up and running and be a communities facility. Everyone will be involved and hopefully join us in this endeavor to make this the place to be again and the place to be seen," says Juanita Betz-Peterson.

Officials with Mayor Newberry's office tell us they expect the Lyric Theater to be complete in September. A grand opening is still being scheduled.


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