Lyric Theatre

434 Broadway Street,
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 Theatre was located in part of the street floor of a three story commercial and office block opposite the city’s central public square. It was opened prior to 1915, and operated until at least 1927.

The building survives, but the space the Lyric Theatre occupied has long since been returned to retail use.

Contributed by Joe Vogel

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 20, 2007 at 8:37 pm

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.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

The Lyric Theatre was mentioned in both the January 8 and March 11 issues of The Moving Picture World in 1916. The earlier item said that owner R. Bauer planned to remodel the Lyric and rename it the Park Theatre, but the March 11 item said that the Lyric Theatre in Chico, recently opened by R. Bauer, had been remodeled, so I guess Mr. Bauer changed his mind about the renaming.

The Lyric was mentioned again in the October 28 issue that same year, which said that the house had been repaired and reopened after suffering damage from a fire.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 7, 2015 at 5:03 pm

This is from a brief biography of Mr. I. D. Stanford which was published in the 1918 book History of Butte County, California, by George C. Mansfield:

“In July, 1916, Mr. and Mrs. Stanford purchased the Lyric Theater in Chico, and since then he has given his undivided attention to the conduct of the business and has built up a fine patronage and has made of it one of the best show-houses in the Valley. He has made a study of what the public wants and gives it to them. The theater is conducted as a moving-picture theater and has a seating capacity of four hundred. It is perfectly ventilated; in summer large electric fans are operated and in winter it is heated by furnace, with the result that the Lyric is the popular show-house in Chico. Popular prices prevail. In June, 1918, Mr. and Mrs. Stanford purchased the Liberty Theater at Marysville, which has a seating capacity of five hundred, and this will be conducted in conjunction with their Chico play-house.”
In the 1922-1923 edition of the FDY the Lyric is one of four Chico theaters listed as being operated by Henry Daly. In the 1927 Yearbook it is one of three houses in Chico operated by the National Theaters Syndicate.

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