Lyric Theatre (Gay Street)
800-804 S. Gay Street,
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In October 1872 Knoxville’s first opera house, Staub’s Theatre, opened on the corner of Gay Street and Cumberland Avenue. Under Peter Staub’s management, the theatre became the centerpiece of Knoxville’s cultural development, bringing prominent actors and theatrical companies to East Tennessee. It was rebuilt in 1901 to the plans of architect Frank Cox.
The Staub Theatre stood directly across from the later Bijou Theatre (q.v.). It featured lacy wrought iron exterior balconies above the side walk much like those seen in New Orleans. Old aerial photos imply an immense stage and stage house; full 1/3rd the size of the auditorium.
Staub’s Theatre ended its life showing movies and was torn down about 1960 to make way for a parking lot. In the mid-1980’s a bland office building was constructed on the site.
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