Lyric Theatre

North Main Street,
White River Junction, VT 05001

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rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 10, 2015 at 2:06 pm

The Lyric is listed in the 1942-43 Motion Picture Almanac as being run by Interstate Theatres of Boston. At the time Interstate was also running the Opera House in White River Jct. (The two articles from the Hartford Historical Society bulletins do not mention the Opera House as a film venue). Interstate ran movie theaters in VT, NH, MA and CT. In mid-1983 I went to a live performance at the “Gates Opera House” in White River Jct. It was on Main St., and I must have known the street address in order to find it. It was on the west side of the steet; one went through a double door and then up a long flight of creaky wood steps to the theater on the second floor. It was really just a “performance space”, a large, high-ceilinged rectangular room. There was no trace at all that there had ever been a theater up there. I believe that this Opera House is still in use today as a live theater.I remember seeing the lyric Theater when I visited the town in the 1950s and 1960s, but never went into it.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2015 at 5:44 pm

A more detailed history of the Lyric Theatre can be found in this PDF of another Hartford Historical Society newsletter, from 1995. It includes a map showing that the Lyric was indeed on the west side of North Main Street a short distance north of Bridge Street.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 9, 2015 at 5:08 pm

The grainy photo of the Lyric in the 1994 newsletter Ron referred to (PDF here also shows the building next door to the south. Though there is not much detail in it, I’m pretty sure the neighboring building is the three-story brick commercial structure still standing at 42 North Main Street, on the northwest corner of North Main and Bridge Street.

That means that the theater would have been on one of the lots now occupied by a larger, post-modern structure called the Dreamland Building, which is at 58 North Main Street. The theater’s actual address probably would have been lower than 58, say approximately 50 N. Main.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

The Hartford (VT) Historical Society newsletter or bulletin which came out around April-May 1994 has a short article by member James Kenison “The Theatre Industry in White River Junction”. The author says that the first movie theater there was the Dreamland Theatre on Gates St. It opened in the early 1900s but lasted only a few years. Next came the Crown Theatre on South Main Street. It was later run by Allard Graves who operated movie theaters in VT,NH and MA. In 1923, Graves purchased a lot on North Main St., and buit the Lyric Theatre which opened in January 1924. Graves apparently felt that the town could not support two movie theaters so he closed the Crown permanently. The Lyric was wired for sound in 1929, and then later was air-conditioned. Graves theaters became the Interstate Theatre circuit. In 1952, they opened the White River Drive-In at Sykes Avenue & Route 5. The Lyric closed in 1970 and the White River Drive-In lasted until 1986.

rsalters (Ron Salters)
rsalters (Ron Salters) on June 8, 2015 at 1:35 pm

The Theatre Historical Society archive has the MGM Theatre Report for the Lyric; it’s Card # 597. Address is “Main St.” There is an external photo dated March 1941. Condition is Good. The report says it was opened about 1918 (incorrect) and that it shows MGM films. There were 634 seats. 1940 population was 2,600.