Lyric Theater

24 East Main Street,
Frostburg, MD 21532

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The Lyric Theater dates back to at least 1935. The building that housed the theater was built in the 1870’s. The Lyric Theater is still listed in the 1955 Film Daily Yearbook.

A 2004 fire caused major damage to the building. At the time of the fire, the theater was already closed and a restaurant was located here.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 4 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

The 2004 fire was not the first to strike this building. The January 5, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World reported that the new Lyric Theatre in Frostburg had been heavily damaged by a fire that swept through part of the town’s business district on the previous December 14.

Mariah95
Mariah95 on December 17, 2012 at 8:56 am

What caused the first fire in 1874 at this building?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Mariah95: The Lyric Theatre building did not yet exist in 1874. According to Firefighting in Allegany County, by Warren W. Jenkins, Frostburg did suffer two major fires in its business district in 1874, but the book gives no details about them. Possibly an older theater was destroyed by one of them and the opera house was built to replace it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on December 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Construction on the building that became the Lyric Theatre began in 1874, and was completed in 1876. The official name of the building was Centennial Hall, but the theater originally operated under the name Paul’s Opera House. Thomas Paul was the builder and original proprietor of the theater, and the building was designed by his son, John T. H. Paul. The younger Paul was born in 1856, so if he had taken any formal training as an architect by 1874 it must have been very limited.

A description of the building published in 1882 said that the auditorium of the opera house was on the third floor, and that it seated 500. The original building was only 100 feet deep, and modern satellite view shows a building about 160 feet deep which appears to have an auditorium at the rear, with a stage house, so an entirely new auditorium must have been added at some point. The Moving Picture World item about the 1917 fire I cited in my earlier comment refers to the “…new Lyric Theatre building….” so perhaps the new auditorium had been added before that fire. I have no idea what was done with the original auditorium on the third floor.

Maryland’s Motion Picture Theaters, by Robert K. Headley, (Google Books preview) says that the Lyric suffered another major fire in 1921 and was subsequently rebuilt. If the new auditorium had not been added before or after the 1917 fire, then it was probably done after the 1921 fire. According to The Fire Insurance Press of November 30, 1921, the fire the previous May had done $30,000 worth of damage to a building with an estimated value of $45,000:

“The Lyric Theater Building, Frostburg, Md., burned for five hours in the morning of May 17, 1921, for several of which the firemen could not locate the fire, on account of the faulty construction of stone walls under the building. The eight persons in the building escaped without injury, but there was $30,000 damage out of a possible $45,000.”

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