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Maryland's National Register Properties



Photo credit: Richard Lippenholz, 10/1984
Lyric Theatre
Inventory No.: B-106
Date Listed: 1/23/1986
Location: 124-128 W. Mount Royal Avenue, Baltimore, Baltimore City
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1894 (opened)
Architect/Builder: Architect: T. Henry Randall
Description: The Lyric Theatre is a large rectangular shaped gable roofed brick structure built in 1893-1894 to which a sizeable brick addition in modern design was made to the front and south in 1981. The original building is of red brick and the new of tan brick. Three of the original elevations remain exposed (north, south, and east) but only the east or Maryland Avenue elevation remains fully exposed. This elevation is decorated in a Renaissance Revival manner with rustication on the lower levels and pilasters supporting an entablature with dentiled cornice above. The historic interior spaces consist primarily of the auditorium and the original lobby or foyer. These spaces remain fairly intact in decorative detailing to the earliest period. The decorative detailing is classical in influence. The lobby is marked by paneled pilasters with Corinthian capitals, arched pedimented doorways, and dentiled cornices. The doors are new. The auditorium is lavishly decorated with paired flat pilasters, round keystone arches with decorative panels inscribed with the names of composers, a heavy modillioned and dentiled cornice below a cove pierced with round windows and a beamed ceiling. The intrados and extrados of the proscenium arch are beaded moldings flanking a cove decorated with gold leafed designs. The proscenium arch is detailed at the center with a cartouche decorated with the Calvert family coat-of-arms, a knight’s armor, and musical instruments. The spandrels have winged figures. The balcony which runs along three sides is defined by a pierced balustrade with wing figures as newels. The present arrangement of seats and boxes, floor and base of stage date from the 1980s renovations. In 1928 the balcony was expanded to the west into an area that was originally a small theater. Significance: The Lyric Theatre has architectural significance on the basis of its outstanding interior, with its artistic decoration evoking a European music hall of the late 19th century, its classically derived detailing, and its acoustically sound design. The interior pace and architectural features, little altered since the enlargement to the rear balcony in 1928, retain both historical character and integrity. The Lyric Theatre is also historically significant for its association with the cultural development of the City of Baltimore around the turn of the 20th century as the center for major concerts and other musical and cultural performances throughout the years of its continuous use as a music hall. The building was recently altered by a major addition to the front façade. This addition does not detract from the building’s primary architectural significance because it does not intrude upon the auditorium’s spatial and design qualities.

 

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