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Lyceum Theater

1999 Photo from the HC Lower collection
411 Main St
Clovis NM 88101
(575) 763-6085

Live Theatre National Register 2007
Record #12299  
 Opened: 1920
Capacity: 500 seats
Architect(s): Boller Bros
Architectural Style(s): Spanish Mission
National Register: 2007
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As:
 Previously operated by: Commonwealth Theatres

Information for this tour was contributed by Tom Drake.

At one time a vaudeville house, the Lyceum in Clovis was built in 1919 and 1920, and like the Luna and El Raton has space for commercial businesses on either side of its theater entrance. Its stage now extends forward from the proscenium, covering the former orchestra pit. A fly-tower holds the theater’s original stage curtain.

During its peak years of 1920-1940, the Lyceum provided the best show in town. Tom Mix, Will Rogers, Gene Autry, and John Philip Sousa and his band performed on its stage. Its owners, Eugene Hardwick and his sons Russell and Charles chose the Kansas City architectural firm of Boller Brothers, well-known theater designers in the Midwest. They appear to have taken their inspiration for the Lyceum from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroads depots and Fred Harvey’s “Harvey House” hotels in their design. It featured an air-cooling system, 600 seats and its interior design largely is intact.

The Hardwicks contracted with Paramount Pictures to show films and maintained a tradition from an earlier Lyceum of using the theater for community events. The local MainStreet program and the city took ownership in 1982, remounting the restored marquee, and began holding community events.

Listing the theaters in the State and National registers will draw renewed attention to them, according to HPD. The attention, when coupled with active MainStreet programs and other downtown revitalization plans, could help spur new economic activity downtown and renew interest in these small-town movie palaces.

“Movie theaters were the heart and pride of small-town New Mexico,” said John Murphey, HPD Register coordinator. “Their slow demises as downtowns emptied only accentuated the ghost-town feel many communities took on, leaving few reasons for area residents to stroll their once-busy main streets at night.”

Down the street from the Lyceum, the Hardwicks opened the State in 1940. It is considered the most striking example of modernism found in any New Mexico theatre. A circular glass-block tower rises from above the marquee and reaches higher than the curved parapet that masks a barrel roof. Its modern air-conditioning system and fresh style inspired the Hardwicks to restyle the Lyceum’s exterior, giving it a molded stucco façade in the Moderne style. The Hardwicks kept up to date and retained a competitive edge over theater chains that started to move into Clovis at the time.

 Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.

1999 photos from the HC Lower collection.

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Last featured 2002-12-27. Last edited 1/31/2014.

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