The Biggest Little Movie City


Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage


In its earliest days as the Lyceum Opera House, this grand theater hosted live stage productions starring such famed actors as Sarah Bernhardt, John Barrymore, and Lillian Russell. The Lyceum was the brain-child of violinist Max Gutstadt, who had helped co-found the Ithaca Conservatory of Music with W. Grant Egbert.

A large portico marked the Cayuga Street entrance of the Neoclassical building. Rochester theatre designers Leon H. Lempert and Sons faced a unique design challenge for the site of the Lyceum Opera House, which opened in 1893. Theater-goers entered a long, narrow lobby facing Cayuga Street and then proceeded to a deep auditorium set at a ninety-degree angle to the entrance. On opening night bright lamps illuminated the drapery-festooned stage and a domed ceiling decorated in pink and bronze tones. Gilded pillars supported the balcony, and private theater boxes provided excellent views of the stage.The stage of the L-shaped building bordered Green Street on what is today the site of City Hall.

The Lyceum became a regular venue for movies in the 1920s but continued to offer a mix of live shows and films until its closure in 1927. The building was used for a variety of short-term performances and lectures before it was demolished in 1933.

ARCHITECTS: Leon H. Lempert and Sons of Rochester, theatre designers


This point of interest is part of the tour: The Biggest Little Movie City


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