The Academy of Music Theatre opened in 1905, giving Lynchburg a venue for traveling stage shows. Although it burned in 1911, a grander theater was rebuilt immediately, reopening in December 1912. It operated as a performing arts theater into the 1920s, when management converted it to a movie theater, a role it served until closing in 1958.
Decades later, the community sought to return it to a performance venue. A rebuilt fly tower marked the start of a comprehensive rehabilitation project — one that continued for a decade, maintaining public interest. In modifying four adjacent historic buildings into a modern theater, historic characteristics were retained and a new addition constructed (photo below right) with a glass hyphen connector between the theater and addition. The hyphen allowed for retention and incorporation of the historically separate entrance and box office for African Americans, an important aspect of the building’s 20th-century history. Modern codes and environmental health and safety measures proved challenging, but were woven into the structure with minimal impact on the historic building fabric.
Diverse programming possibilities now provide opportunities for live performances, screenings, and business functions. The long-running dedication of the community to rehabilitate the theater, using the rehabilitation tax credit program, reflects the city’s sense of pride, and the result will benefit Lynchburg well into the future.
Easement Program Architect
Preservation Incentives Division
Updated July 17, 2019