Lyric Theatre

223-225 South Fifth Street,
Springfield, IL 62701

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Opened in 1906, and located in downtown Springfield, the Lyric Theatre lasted less than a quarter century and was demolished in 1929.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2010 at 6:44 am

The photo at the top of this page is from the American Terra Cotta Company’s archives. The company’s records list the Lyric Theatre was designed by the architectural firm of Helmle & Helmle.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I must have intended to put a link in my previous comment but forgot to insert it. I can’t find the photo of the Lyric Theatre I was linking to now, but I’ll keep looking for it. The American Terra Cotta Company’s archives are at the University of Minnesota Libraries, and they’ve reconfigured their web site. I don’t know if the photos are even available online anymore.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 13, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Now I really wish I hadn’t lost that link to the photo of the Lyric. The splendid terra cotta front of the Tivoli Theatre does look familiar, and I’m pretty sure that it was the building in the American Terra Cotta Company’s archives.

That means that it must have been the New Lyric/Tivoli that was designed by Helmle & Helmle around 1920.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Yes, Ken, that’s it, and it’s definitely the house that later became the Tivoli.

Loper is undoubtedly the correct spelling of the owner’s name. A brief biography appears on this page of the 1912 Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Volume 3 by Newton Bateman. It says that he converted his restaurant in to a theater after it was destroyed by a riot on August 8, 1908. That would give the first Lyric an opening of late 1908 or early 1909.

However, at least one resident of Springfield believed that Loper had a restaurant and theater in operation in the first Lyric building at the time of the riot. In a 1984 oral history interview, Marion Ester Schermerhorn (1899-1994) (this PDF) says that Loper “…had a restaurant and a theater right together.” It could have been one of those instances when a shopkeeper converted a back room into a nickelodeon.

The Lyric is mentioned in an item in the April 5, 1913, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“SPRINGFIELD, ILL.

“PROPRIETORS H. T. Loper of the Lyric and W. W. Watts of the Vaudette have taken a long contemplated step and are trying out the plan of the longer show and the ten-cent admission. These two high-class houses showing licensed pictures report that demands for a lengthier program and the elimination of the constant changing of audiences has been frequent. The Savoy is giving three reels of licensed pictures but not so recent releases for five cents.”

The Vaudette was the house that later became the second Lyric and then the Tivoli.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 14, 2013 at 9:10 pm

It sounds like another case of FDY failing to keep its listings up to date.

The address field needs to be corrected. The first Lyric was at 223-225 S. Fifth. Odd and even numbers were on opposite sides of the street in Springfield, as in most American cities. The Vaudette/Lyric/Tivoli, at 216-218, would have been just a couple of doors from being directly across the street.

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