Lyric Theatre

400 block of Broadway,
Chico, CA 95928

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One of many small storefront theatres and nickelodeons which operated in Chico during the early decades of the 20th century, the Lyric was located in part of the street floor of a three story commercial and office block opposite the city’s central public square. The building survives, but the space the Lyric occupied has long since been returned to retail use.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

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Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 21, 2007 at 4:37 am

The overhead sign and arched entrance of this early theatre can be glimpsed in a photo that appears on the cover of the Chico volume of Arcadia Publishing Company’s Images of America series. The cover can be seen in the book’s preview at Google Books by searching with the terms “images Chico California”.

Here is a 1948 view of Chico’s Broadway showing at left the three story building which had housed the Lyric. The altered storefront is partly concealed behind the parked truck.

A few years ago the Chico News & Review published an article which mentioned the names of several of the town’s vanished theatres, the Lyric among them. Other names listed were the Star, the Gem, the Empire, the Dreamland, the Iris, the Broadway (said to have had a movable roof that could be opened to the night sky during the valley’s sultry summers), and the Airdrome, which was always open-air.

Some of these names may have denoted the same theatre at different times, but even taking that into consideration, it looks as though Chico has historically been generously endowed with theatres. So far I’ve been unable to track down any solid information about any of these missing theatres, other than the Lyric and the Empire.

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