Lyric Theater

Also known as: Thespian Hall
NE corner of Main and Vine Sts., Boonville, Missouri


Historic American Buildings Survey Lester Jones, Photographer July 4, 1940 VIEW FROM WEST

Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey


Street View 


From the National Register application:

"Greek Revival style theater building, built 1855-1857, two stories and basement, rectangular plan, originally 50 x 103 feet, brick construction. Front (west) portico has four unfluted Doric columns constructed cf wedge-shaped brick. Wooden pediment (above) and architrave (below) complete gable under ridge roof.

Cast iron columns in basement support main floor. These columns originally continued up through the first floor space to support the second floor.

Original surviving exterior ornamentation includes: window frames, entablature mouldings, column and pilaster capitals, and iron scrollwork bolted to the cast iron window lintels.

Evidence of Victorian influence noted particularly in use of cast iron ornamentation, establishes building as late example of the Greek Revival style.

Basement originally used as reading room; rain floor used as combined theater and lecture hall or auditorium. Second story housed the city hall, Masonic and Odd Fellows hall. (History of Howard and Cooper Counties, Missouri, 1883, p. 663; and Boonville Weekly Observer, May 17, 1856, p. 2, col. 2.).

Building was in need of repair at end of nineteenth century and was in danger of being razed. Owner W. Speed Stephens hired architect T. W. Bast of Sedalia, Missouri, to design remodeling of second floor.(Boonville Weekly Advertiser, August 31, 1900, p. 1, col. 1.) On April 5, 1901, plans were made public announcing an extensive renovation and enlargement of the auditorium to provide an opera house. (Boonville Weekly Advertiser, April 5, 1901, p. 1, col. 5.).

Architect for the auditorium enlargement was J. L. Howard of St. Louis, who specialized in theater design. (Boonville Weekly Advertiser, May 17, 1901, p. 1, col. 1.).

This enlargement required, the removal of the east (rear) wall and an addition was constructed lengthening the building by approximately 25 feet. New space accommodated more elaborate stage mechanisms and provided rooms for the musicians and heating plant. (Boonville Weekiy Advertiser, May 24, 1901, p. 1, col. 1.) First floor was sloped, into original basement area to make possible better viewing of stage. Other interior alterations included: removal of several second story support columns, construction of balcony over rear third of auditorium, application of ornamental plasterwork, and extensive reworking of lobby."

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 21, 1969
Reference number
Architectural style
Mid 19th Century Revival: Exotic Revival
Areas of significance
Politics/Government; Architecture; Performing Arts
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Period of significance
Significant years
1855; 1857; 1901

Update Log 

  • May 26, 2013: New photo from iconions
  • May 19, 2012: Imported photos from HABS/HAER
  • December 27, 2011: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger