Lyric Theatre/Tupelo, MS

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo)
Monday April 19, 2010

New colors, marquee in works for Lyric
By Carlie Kollath, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo, Miss.

Apr. 19–TUPELO — The Lyric Theatre is getting a face-lift, thanks to some help from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association.

Tom Booth, executive director of Tupelo Community Theatre, said the group is embarking on a roughly $40,000 upgrade to the historic building’s exterior, including the marquee.

The current plans call for a new color scheme, neon signage for the marquee and restoration of the second floor windows and exterior plaster.

The Carpenter Foundation two years ago donated $15,000 to the project. This month, the Main Street Association awarded its first facade grant to TCT to rehab the Lyric.
The rest of the money will come from TCT’s individual and corporate donors.

“Our stars, directors, producers and executive producers give a considerable amount above the season ticket prices every year and they are contributing to this,” he said.

The facade updates were designed by The McCarty Co. and call for the Lyric’s colors to change from a pastel Art Deco palette to a richer one with purples, tans and reds called African Violet, Chinese Red, Tassel, Sandy Ridge and Softer Tan.

Work should start in four to six weeks and will take about six weeks to finish, Booth said.

He hopes the lobby and the rest of the building’s interior will be redone in the new color palette eventually.

“This is a significant building in downtown and the board is very proud of this building and we want that pride to show when people walk up,” Booth said.

The Lyric, originally called the Comus Theatre, opened in 1912 as a live theater venue. It survived the 1936 tornado and was used as a temporary mortuary after the storm, according to TCT’s Web site.

In the 1930s, The Lyric became a part of the Malco movie chain, which added the marquee and the Art Deco appearance. TCT bought the building in the mid-’80s and returned the Lyric to a live theater venue.

The group has been doing renovations for more than 20 years.

“The Lyric is just like an old home — the upkeep never ends,” Booth said.

The most recent project was a $500,000 flyloft, which was partially funded with a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission.

The facade project is getting help from the Main Street Association because it is in line with the group’s design goals for downtown Tupelo.

“They stuck to the historic facade of the Lyric Theatre,” said Brandon Bishop, chairman of Main Street’s design committee. “They stayed true to what the building was intended to be. … The committee thought it was a wonderful update to the building, while maintaining the historic facade.”

The purpose of the facade grants, Bishop said, is to encourage downtown building owners to use historic design principals when doing exterior updates. If a project is selected by the committee, the grant will pay for up to $1,500 of the project for Main Street members.

For more information about the facade grants or to apply, contact the Main Street Association at (662) 841-6598.

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