Second Street and Jefferson Street,
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The Lyceum Theatre pictured here was opened in 1894 by H.L. Brinkley and succeeded an earlier Lyceum Theatre which opened in September of 1890 and burned in 1893, located at the corner of Third Street and Union Street. The location of the pictured building was on the southeast corner of Second Street and Jefferson Street. It was a traditional house, flat ceiling, oblong proscenium, cooled with many electric fans with windows for ventilation in the auditorium of both sides. Other photographs of the auditorium show the balcony held up by many columns and the highest balcony extending back almost to the street. It was illuminated with exposed light bulbs (said to be the first theatre in Memphis to have electric lighting) and had open metalwork railings in the three balconies and boxes. The first balcony was a ‘Golden Horseshoe’, with chairs instead of theatre seats. The interior theatre posted here shows the standing electric fans on the box rails and the painted asbestos.
Around 1917, it was the first large theatre in Memphis to show movies regularly when it was leased to Loew’s Inc. while their Loew’s State Theatre and Loew’s Palace Theatre were both under construction. A photograph from this period has ‘Loew’s’ inserted on the corner sign and on the marquee was “Heart of a Child”, a 1920 film starring Nazimova. Another photograph shows the stage and screen done as an outdoor set, with musicians under trellises and what appears to be a photoplayer in the pit with a double mirror setup.
For most of its career it was a legitimate theatre featuring a number of seasons by the repertory company headed by Gene Lewis and Olga Worth. It had its vaudeville days and finally turned to ‘girlie’ shows in the 1930’s, but these were not sufficient to keep it from being demolished in 1935. A commercial building occupies the site today.
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