• Spring 2013

    Volume 35, Number 3

    Virginia Tech Magazine, spring 2013

  • The Lyric Theatre

    An iconic building in the heart of Blacksburg

    Tom Tillar '69

    For more than a century, one place close to campus has been a source of entertainment for countless Virginia Tech students—the Lyric Theatre.

    After its establishment in 1909 as a venue to offer silent films to the local community and as an escape for students, the Lyric occupied three locations before, in 1929, a group of local businessmen partnered to build a grand cinema for "talkies." Their vision would become the current Lyric Theatre on College Avenue, a majestic Art Deco building adorned with two distinctive masks over the marquis that welcomed students for less than $1.

    The new Lyric seated 900 people and had an orchestra pit in front of the stage for occasional theatrical productions. (After several renovations, however, the seating has been reduced to about 500, with what I suspect are far more comfortable seats than those in earlier days). The Lyric was one of three sound motion-picture theatres in the state at the time, and it was especially a treat for students whose hometowns didn't yet have a movie theatre. For decades, the Lyric hosted many first-run films, even as several other movie theatres appeared in Blacksburg in the 1970s and '80s. However, the advent of the area's first multiplex in Christiansburg offered too much competition for the Blacksburg theatres, and all eventually closed their doors. The Lyric ceased showing movies in 1989. Over the next five years, the theatre was leased off and on by Virginia Tech for class instruction and by the Student Union film program while Squires Student Center was undergoing a renovation.

    In 1994, a group of local Blacksburg citizens formed a nonprofit organization, the Lyric Council. The council raised more than $600,000 to renovate and revive the iconic theatre, and it reopened in 1996. The renovation restored the beautiful red silk tapestries that cover the walls, which are lit by elegant lanterns designed for the theatre when it first opened. Seats were upholstered and a new sound system was installed, and the current building owner granted a 30-year rent-free lease.

    Today, the theatre is staffed mostly by community volunteers, including students. Second-run films are featured, along with some festival-winning films, musical artists, and the occasional theatrical performance. Conversion from 35mm film equipment to more modern digital projection is the highest priority for the theatre.

    Lyric Council volunteers have embarked on a project to document the story of this Blacksburg icon with a book that interweaves history, photos, and special memories. They're seeking your input. Do you have a fond memory of the Lyric you’d like to share? Learn more about this special publication and how to share your memories at

    Tom Tillar '69
    Vice President for Alumni Relations

    Dave Hunt, communications director
    Shirley Fleet, Class Notes editor

    Spring 2013

    All in the Family: Holistic learning in Virginia Tech's residential colleges

    Picture-perfect: The land-grant today

    Full STEM Ahead: Educating the next generation's brightest minds

  • Go to digital edition   View or download PDF

    The Lyric Theatre on College Avenue

    A project to document the story of Blacksburg's iconic Lyric Theatre with a book that interweaves history, photos, and special memories is in the works. Do you have a fond memory of the Lyric you’d like to share? Learn more about this special publication and how to share your memories at

    2013 Reunions

    Class reunions for the 20th through the 50th anniversaries are held at five-year intervals. Each reunion includes optional campus tours, a Friday evening meal, and plenty of time for reminiscing and dancing. Saturdays feature a morning brunch and pregame festivities, followed by the game. Seeing the Hokies play in Lane Stadium is a treat for all reunion participants. Special seating is arranged for reunion registrants at Tech’s sold-out games, and rooms are set aside at The Inn at Virginia Tech for reservation by reunion registrants. Banquets and brunches are at the inn as well. For more information on the 2013 homecomings and reunions, visit

    Sept. 7 – Western Carolina
    Young Alumni Reunion
    Class of '93 – 20th Anniversary
    Sept. 21 – Marshall
    Class of '88 – 25th Anniversary
    Oct. 5 – North Carolina
    (traditional parade)
    Class of '63 – 50th Anniversary
    Oct. 12 – Pittsburgh
    Class of '83 – 30th Anniversary
    Oct. 26 – Duke
    Class of '73 – 40th Anniversary
    Class of '78 – 35th Anniversary
    Nov. 16 – Maryland
    Class of '68 – 45th Anniversary
    Virginia Tech reunions

    2013 Homecomings

    Multiple homecomings are hosted throughout the football season to coincide with home games. Eight academic college programs are spread across the home schedule, along with special homecomings for graduate alumni, Corps of Cadets alumni, and other groups. Homecomings are open to all alumni of the host groups, regardless of graduation year. In each case, there is a game-day gathering, plentiful pregame tailgate food, and the opportunity to reunite with friends, faculty, and staff. Lodging and game tickets (if needed) are available to registrants on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's best to register early. For more information on the 2013 homecomings and reunions, visit

    Sept. 7 – Western Carolina
    College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences homecoming
    Special Event: Alumni Chapter Officers Forum
    Sept. 21 – Marshall
    College of Agriculture and Life Sciences homecoming
    Corps of Cadets homecoming
    Oct. 5 – North Carolina
    (traditional parade)
    College of Engineering homecoming
    Special Event: Highty-Tighties homecoming
    Special Event: Recreational Sports homecoming
    Oct. 12 – Pittsburgh
    College of Science homecoming
    College of Natural Resources and Environment homecoming
    Oct. 26 – Duke
    Graduate Degree Alumni homecoming
    College of Architecture and Urban Studies homecoming
    Special Event: Marching Virginians homecoming
    Nov. 16 – Maryland
    College of Veterinary Medicine homecoming
    Pamplin College of Business homecoming

    Virginia Tech Magazine

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