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Miami Through its Spanish Performing Arts Spaces

Lillian Manzor, Author

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The Lyric Theater

819 NW 2nd Ave.
     The Lyric Theater is the oldest theater building that still remains in Miami. Built in 1915 by Geder Walker, an African American entrepreneur from Georgia, it was decribed by The Miami News as "the most beautiful and costly playhouse owned by Colored people in all the Southland." Built originally as a cinema house, it hosted silent movies, vaudevilles, and major starts such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Lena Horne, Count Bassie and Celia Cruz. These stars would play at the Lyric after performing in the Miami Beach hotels where they could not stay after hours given the Jim Crow segregation laws in South Florida. 

     Located in the Central Negro District, it was the heart of what was known as "Little Broadway" until the 1950s. This area included The Mary Elizabeth Hotel's Zebra Lounge and the Hotel St. John.  It closed in the early 1960s due to the decimation of the area caused by the construction of the I-95 and 395 freeways. The Black Archives, History and Research Foundation bought it in 1988. The theater's renovation and new building were completed in 2000.
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