Virginia Tech University Libraries, Special Collections
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the Department of Housing, Interior Design, and Resource Management

The Lyric Theatre--A Look Back at the Beginnings

Preliminary Sketches and Construction Drawings Including Design Alternatives

Traced drawing of front and stores including masks, undated (linked drawing is 174K)

Preliminary sketches, architectural drawings, and other materials relating to the design and construction of the Lyric Theatre as well as to later restoration, remodeling, and alteration projects are included in the records of Smithey & Boynton, a Roanoke architecture firm established in 1935 by Louis Philippe Smithey and Henry B. Boynton. The Smithey & Boynton records are housed in the Special Collections Department in Newman Library. Study of the materials shows that changes were made during the entire construction process. Of particular interest is the evolution in sketch form of the auditorium into a vaguely Art Deco-Spanish Colonial interior. Such a mix of then popular design styles was certainly not the norm, but movie houses were not constrained by "normal" life. They existed to help Douglas Fairbanks or Shirley Temple transport one to exotic locales or strange and distant times. They existed to create magic. Unlike the blank box cinemas of today, the Lyric respresents a time where the actual theater was of equal importance to the movie.

Cinema Trivia
It took a while for kissing to be reckoned acceptable...the very first screen smooch in 1896 between May Irwin and John Rice in The Widow Jones, was piloried in the press as "absolutely disgusting." It took a lot longer in the Far East. Thirty years later the firstAsian screen kiss was bestowed on brave pioneer Mamie Lee in the 1926 Chinese production Two Women in the House. In Japan, where kissing was considered "unclean, immodest, indecorous, ungraceful, and likely to spread disease"... some 800,000 feet of film were cut from American movies that same year.
From The Book of Lists: The 90s Edition by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace ( Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1993).
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Last updated: January 18, 1996