In 1994, West was chair of the board of directors that restored the theatre and began to gather essential pieces of the building’s history, which she called treasures.
Some of the Lyric’s history has passed on with members of the theatre who are no longer alive. Their losses have only spurred on the work to gather the remaining unsung history.
It seems to be good timing, too, as the Blacksburg Museum is collecting histories from people in the area. The oral histories are even being recorded in the Lyric.
“The museum is collecting oral histories from around town and from people of all walks of life,” Mattingly said. “A lot of those stories overlap (with ours.)”
While the group creating the book is small, gathering stories is easier thanks to a modern source of help — social media. Facebook, Twitter and blogging have all become a channel for Lyric patrons and members to write their stories.
Though the method of gathering of stories is timely, the purpose is to bridge multiple generations together through memories of a place they all enjoyed.
“A place like The Lyric is the sum of the community,” Mattingly said. “Everyone’s story is what makes it relevant.”
Although creating the memory book will be a long process for the Lyric’s committee members, Mattingly and her colleagues are thrilled to be piecing the theatre’s history together.
There is a sweeping spectrum of stories to link, but Mattingly said this establishment and others like it are the centers of a community.
“We started out as sort of a vaudeville house and theatre, we were a segregated theatre, that’s a story worth telling,” Mattingly said.
Since its birth, moviegoers have shaped the Lyric in their minds with their own recollections of why the theatre is such a treasured place with their own stories.
“I met my husband [at the Lyric Theatre] at a blind date arranged by our teenage daughters,” Plaut said. “We saw Peggy Sue Got Married.”
It’s these small but pivotal moments interwoven with major renovations or changes in the Lyric’s history that complete the story of the Blacksburg landmark, one the memory book committee is striving to record.