Lyric Theatre

140 Water Street,
Binghamton, NY 13901

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rivest266 on February 18, 2017 at 10:09 am

The October 14th, 1929 grand opening ad can be found in the photo section for this theatre.

adamghost on November 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Incidentally, Hamlin’s/CVS itself is in an old theater building, the Hippodrome/Court (1908-1927).

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 9, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I was unaware that there had been two houses called the Lyric in Binghamton. As David W. Jones was the architect of the new Lyric Theatre of 1929, then Sanford O. Lacey had to have been the architect of the 1893 Bijou Theatre, which became the first Lyric in 1908.

Here is a brief biography of Jones, first published in 1924, which notes that he worked in the office of T.I. Lacey & Sons in 1919 and 1920.

adamghost on September 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

I uncovered a lot of information about the earlier Lyric (it goes back a lot further than we thought, back to the Stone Opera House era), and put up its own page. It should be up tomorrow. This theatre had one convoluted history, that’s for sure.

The October 12, 1929 issue of the Press records the grand opening of the new Lyric (which took place two days later, Monday, October 14, 1929, with the Fred Waring film “Syncopation”), including a better picture of the new building. It’s clear from comparing it to the 1950 photo that there was no remodeling of the exterior in the interim…it’s the same in pretty much every respect. The advertisements for the grand opening make it clear they went “all in” on talkies, but it doesn’t seem to have helped them much.

Going through the ads in the Press, it also seems clear the Lyric closed quite a bit earlier than I had thought. The last ad in the Press I could locate was Dec. 28, 1944. On Feb. 21, 1945 a tiny item states that Comerford chain (who had bought the theatre three years prior) had closed the theatre, citing “no business” as the reason.

adamghost on September 9, 2013 at 4:53 am

And the September 11, 1929 issue of the Press shows a picture of the same building (including the same marquee) under construction! Apparently there were TWO Lyrics, and the one demolished in 1950 had only been built in 1929.

Highlights from the Press article:

“The new theatre, said to be the first in this section of the country which was especially designed and constructed for the presentation of the "talkies” will cost more than $30,000.

The old Lyric theatre, formerly known as the Bijou, was a populr house for the burlesque shows in the boygone days in this city….in recent years presentations there have been restricted to moving pictures.

King decided to raze the old building, long a Water street landmark. In its place he is erecting a building with basement and four upper floors. The seating capacity will provide accommodations for more than 1,000 persons.

The building has a concere foundation, outer walls are brick.

The main entrance to the building is through four sets of double swinging doors and leads to the outer lobby, where there are two sets of stairs to the balcony. Four more sets of double doors afford access to the foyer and auditorium. On the balcony floor will be a smoking room for men, with lavatory, and a woman’s parlor, also with lavatory. The manger’s office will be situated between these rooms. The projection room will be on the third level above the balcony.

Groups of three fluted columns each will be located at either side of the stage, which will be 21 feet wide and eight feet deep.

Architect David W. Jones. Frank W. O'Connell is the builder."

adamghost on September 9, 2013 at 4:38 am

At last! At the end of this lengthy URL is the picture of the mysterious Lyric that Jim Macumber referred to above. This is the first time I have seen a picture of this mysterious venue after 35 years of searching.

It definitely looked very old school, even for 1950.\Index%20O-G-T&HitCount=52&hits=1f+12f+215+26c+26d+271+27d+27e+29e+2a0+2a2+2a3+2ac+37a+38e+38f+3ba+3cd+40b+40e+455+497+4e8+50b+557+600+648+689+692+7df+853+857+86c+871+8cf+8f2+90f+a73+b2d+b4e+b5a+b7c+c5b+c75+cec+cf1+d04+d3c+d43+d81+dc4+dca+&SearchForm=C%3a\inetpub\wwwroot\Fulton_New_form.html&.pdf

generalenigma on July 9, 2013 at 6:43 pm

You’ve got it Joe !!!! (That “Street View” you have fixed is perfect!! Also I found a picture in The Binghamton Press in December 1950 OF THE NEW HAMLINS PARKING LOT … FULL OF CARS. The caption said it holds 75 cars.) Hawley Street USED to go straight across to where it MET Water Street … Water Street continued parallel to the Chenango River further south to where it met Riverside Drive. When they did urban renewal in the late 60’s, Water Street was truncated & The Treadway Hotel was built between the Chenango River & Washington Street forcing Hawley street to curve around into Water Street & continue up to Court Street. And they chose to name that section Hawley Street. Jim Macumber

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on July 9, 2013 at 4:35 pm

This was a bit of a puzzle, as Binghamton has done a bit of street realignment, and the stretch of Water Street the Lyric Theatre was on has been renamed Hawley Street. Hamlin’s Drugs is now a CVS Pharmacy, and the parking lot where the Lyric once stood is still there, with a small CVS sign in front. I’ve updated Street View to that location, which is a bit south of the Google Maps pin icon, just before Hawley Street starts to bend.

generalenigma on July 9, 2013 at 7:54 am

I forgot to mention the article also gave the actual address of The Lyric Theatre as 136-140 ½ Water Street. Jim Macumber

generalenigma on July 8, 2013 at 7:46 am

I have just recently come across an article from the Fri August 4, 1950 Binghamton Press while searching through the microfilms at the Broome County Public Library which documents the sale of the Lyric Theatre property to Hamlin’s Drugs for the purpose of creating a store parking lot. The article has a picture of The Lyric Theatre as well. As it is basically a photostatic copy of the microfilmed image, it isn’t a great picture but you can see what the building looked like & the marquee with “Lyric” on the front. Cinema Treasures requests we do not attach a photo like this to a post & I have no idea at all if a 63 year old newspaper article & picture could still be construed as under copyright. (I would tend to think not especially when the purpose intended is for historical information but I really don’t know.) However anyone who would like to simply see it & NOT publish it is welcome to e-mail me & I would be happy to forward it to you. (including Cinema Treasures … and if you determine it is not under copyright, please feel free to put it on this page) —–

adamghost on July 8, 2013 at 12:45 am

This pdf of a Jan. 1951 issue of the Press and Sun-Bulletin implies that the theatre was demolished in 1950 and made into a parking lot for Hamlin’s. (See Hamlin’s ad in upper right hand corner)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

The Lyric is a bit mysterious, as Adam Marsland said. However, a couple of sources about Binghamton architect Sanford O. Lacey mention the Lyric as being of his design. I’m not sure when it was built, but I don’t find it listed in any of Julius Cahn’s Guides from the late 19th or early 20th century.

There are dozens of references to boxing matches being held at the Lyric around 1916-1917, and one reference to a bout held there as early as 1909. My guess would be that the Lyric was opened sometime between 1905, when the 1906 Cahn Guide (the most recent edition available to me) probably went to press, and March 26, 1909, when Battling Jim Johnson in his first fight defeated Battling Brooks by a TKO.

adamghost on April 11, 2009 at 3:31 pm

I was also unable to find any photos of this theatre, or any locals who actually remembered it.

adamghost on April 11, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I did a lot of research on movie theatres in Binghamton back in the ‘70s, mostly looking through old business directories. I recall that the history of the Lyric was the most mysterious of almost any of them. As you say, it was active for many years, but there were quite a few gaps in the record; it would be listed in business directories for several years, and then not for a few years, then again for several years. I don’t recall the actual span of time but I remember it started very early on. Moreover, the street address listed in the business directories changed a few times (above and beyond the renumbering that took place at some point), which was weird.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 10, 2005 at 2:48 pm

Listed in the American Motion Picture Directory;1914-1915 edition with an address given as 134 Water Street, Binghamton, NY.

It is still being listed in the Film Daily Yearbook;1952 edition at 140 Water Street, with a seating capacity of 906.