University Libraries, Special Collections
in collaboration with
The Department of Housing, Interior Design and Resources Management


A Look Back at the Beginnings



photograph of new theatre and store


The Lyric Theatre opened on April 14, 1930 and quickly became a focal point of downtown Blacksburg. Designed by Roanoke architect Louis Philippe Smithey, the Lyric was one of only three theaters in the state built for the new "talkie" sound technology. Boasting a lobby, stage, orchestra pit, and balcony, the "fire-proof" building originally seated nearly 900. Built for $150,000 by the Blacksburg Realty Corporation (which is still the owner), it finally closed in the 1980s.

The Lyric is now poised for a revival of activities: film, live theatre, dance, music, and lecture...very much reminiscent of its early vaudeville days. The Lyric Council is the organization which plans to reopen the theater for limited runs beginning mid-February, 1996.

An exhibit of architectural drawings and sketches and for the construction of the Lyric is mounted in the Wallace Hall Gallery, Lower Atrium Level, at Virginia Tech. The exhibit was curated by Eric Wiedegreen and Tamara Kennelly using materials from Special Collections in the University Libraries.

elevation drawing of the Lyric

Preliminary sketches and construction drawings, including design alternatives

front of the Lyric in 1995

Bring back the Lyric!

Louis Philippe Smithey

Architect and Engineer Louis Philippe Smithey and the others who built the Lyric

Lyric in 1910

History and early homes of the Lyric

have you heard


"Babies in arm will not be admitted to the Lyric?"
From the V. P. I. Skipper, April 1930

About the actual exhibit in Wallace Hall Gallery
About the virtual exhibit
Collaborations with Virginia Tech and the Lyric

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Last updated: March 18, 1999