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Lyric Theatre

Photo from the Bob Meza collection
505 12th St
Carrizozo NM

Record #12723  
 Opened: 1914
 Closed: 1979
 Current Use:
Architectural Style(s):
National Register:
Current Organ: none
 Also Known As: Carrizozo, Crystal

Information for this tour was contributed by E.H. Young.

In 1916, Ira O. Wetmore erected a trio of adjoining buildings in what is now the 500 block of Twelfth Street. The upstairs of the two-story on the corner of Fifth Avenue provided rooms for rent, while the first floor consisted of the dining room for the lodgers and an early-day version of a mini-mall. This building would eventually become the El Cidola Hotel. The middle building was the Western Motors, Inc., later becoming a Ford automobile dealership. It is currently occupied by the Sierra Blanca Brewing Company.

The southernmost building was the Carrizozo Theatre. An opera house, complete with an orchestra pit and dancing girls on a constrained stage; very typical in western towns of that era. Simultaneously, George J. Dingwall had been showing motion pictures in a back room of the Exchange Bank, today's Masonic Temple building and home to the Lincoln County Historical Society. He purchased the Carrizozo Theatre, changing its name to the Crystal Theatre, emphasizing the significant function of the crystal lens which magnified the film's illuminated image onto the silver screen. Opening its doors on Christmas night, 1918, the first featured film starred Bryant Washburn in "Till I Come Back to You".

Reflecting the advent of sound synchronization, the theater evolved into its third incarnation, the Lyric Theatre. On June 13, 1931, the first talking picture was shown in Carrizozo, "The Last Parade" starring Jack Holt with Boris Karloff as a prison warden.

On October 7, 1975, the Carrizozo Association for the Performing Arts, under the leadership of its president, Thomas C. Ward, bought the Lyric from the Sittons. Unfortunately, a controversy erupted in 1979 over movie ratings of certain films like "The Exorcist", and the doors of the Lyric were closed. The Lyric was sold by auction on January 16, 1981, and many await its resurrection. A private individual owns all three of the Wetmore Buildings.

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

June 2005 photos from the Adam Martin collection.

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Last featured 7/2/2005. Last edited 11/27/2018.

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