Constructed in 1908, this fine-looking theatre was originally called the Jefferson, even though it was located at 291 Madison. In 1910, the owners changed the name to the Lyric. I wish I could tell you why they did that, but I really don't know. They didn't bother consulting the Lauderdales.
An old newspaper article described the elaborate facade, which included "two scantily clad Greek maidens lounged prettily over the building's high arched entrance. They supported with their arms a huge shield and scroll." I believe they were based, loosely, on the Lauderdale coat-of-arms.
The Lyric remained a vaudeville house until the mid-1920s. Thereafter, it was used for YMCA meetings, dramatic clubs, and other gatherings. As far as I can tell, it never operated as a movie theatre.
In 1941, the theatre burned in one of our city's most spectacular blazes, and I managed to find a photo of the scorched hulk after the fire. Salvage crews later attempted to remove the statues of the Greek maidens, but their chains slipped and they came crashing to the ground.
Still, portions of the old building survive here and there around town. One woman bought 60,000 of the old bricks for a "rambling, English-style home" she was building on South Parkway, but I can't tell you the actually address because the newspapers didn't mention it.
One fellow obtained the massive chains that held up the marquee and used them for a footbridge at his home on Princeton. Again, no mention of the specific address, but it would be nice to know if those chains (and footbridge) are still there. Another Memphian bought 10,000 bricks and used them to build a nice wall around his home at the corner of Highland and Watauga, and this part of the Lyric is still standing today.
And the building itself? Last time, I checked, the location was a parking lot.
PHOTO COURTESY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS LIBRARIES