|Address||215 N. Lumpkin Street
|Current use||Live Music Venue|
Georgia Theatre is a live music venue and event space in Athens, Georgia. Many prominent national and local acts across all genres have performed at the Theatre, including rock, folk, country, indie, alternative, hip hop and electronic. The venue is on the Athens Music History Walking Tour sponsored by the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau. Georgia Theatre opened as a music venue in 1978, but spent a few years in the early 1980s operating sporadically as a movie house. It was reopened as a music venue in 1989 and has since hosted many of the major touring acts that come through the state.
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In 1889, the YMCA of Athens brought the property on which Georgia Theatre now stands and built a building on the site. Starting in 1913, a music store occupied the bottom floor while the YMCA continued to use the second and third floor. In 1926, the Masonic Temple Association of Athens bought the building and soon began sharing the space with Dorsey Furniture Co. In 1935, the Elite Theater opened in the location, building upon and expanding the foundation of YMCA building.
After many different uses over the years, in 1977 Sam Smartt, Hap Harris, George Fontaine and Sheffy McArthur converted the building into a concert hall. The B-52s paid to perform at Georgia Theatre on May 20, 1978, and the following year The Police played as part of the band's first U.S. tour.
Georgia Theatre briefly closed in 1981 and was reopened a year later by Carafe & Draft Theater as a movie house. Kyle Pilgrim and Bill "Duck" Anderson bought the building in 1989, planning to reopen Georgia Theatre as concert venue. Pylon performed the first show at the new Georgia Theatre, and in subsequent years the venue hosted Widespread Panic, Beck, Warren Zevon, Umphreys McGee, Dave Matthews Band and members of R.E.M. The 2004 album Live at Georgia Theatre by Derek Trucks Band was recorded at the venue, as well as the video for John Mayer's 2002 song “No Such Thing”. In November 2004, Georgia Theatre was sold to Wilmot Greene and Randy Smith who renovated and restored the building. In 2014, the venue was sold to Agon, who also owns Variety Playhouse in Atlanta, GA.
Fire and renovation
On the morning of June 19, 2009, a major fire erupted in Georgia Theatre, causing severe damage to the building and collapsing the roof. The venue underwent renovations in 2010 and 2011 and reopened on August 1, 2011. Funding for the restoration came in part from ticket sales of a benefit concert hosted by Zac Brown Band and several guest artists at the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta. The concert was later released as a three-disk album titled Pass the Jar: Zac Brown Band and Friends Live from the Fabulous Fox Theatre In Atlanta. The fire and history of Georgia Theatre were recorded in a documentary film called Athens Burning (2012).
The newly renovated Georgia Theater is a world-class concert venue with a state-of-the-art sound system, excellent acoustics, improved seating, two balconies, and a popular open air roof area with a full bar and comfortable patio seating. Since reopening, the venue has hosted hundreds of acts including My Morning Jacket, Gregg Allman, Alabama Shakes, Willie Nelson, Basketball Team, and Kenny Chesney.
- "Fire guts Georgia Theatre in Athens". Retrieved 2016-03-07.
- "Georgia Theatre, a rock icon, reopens triumphantly after fire". www.cnn.com. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
- Georgia Theatre (official site)