Virginia, USA's first theatre, The Byrd Theatre, was opened on December 24, 1928 and was then known as Richmond's Movie Palace. It was named after the founder of Richmond, Virginia, William Byrd II, and is a cinema house in Carytown, near Richmond, though its original name was the State Theater.
It was designed and executed by architect and contractor Fred Bishop in the French Empire period style. It cost builders Charles Somma and Walter Coulter $900,000 to build. It was built to accommodate 916 people in the orchestra seating area and balcony audience of 476 people. The balcony is opened whenever required or when the Byrd Theatre Foundation receives a donation.
This theater is also famous for its lavish interiors execute by the famous Arthur Brunet Studios, New York using imported Turkish and Italian marble, 11 exquisite Czechoslovakian crystal chandeliers, hand embroidered velvet drapes, oil on canvas murals based on Greek mythology and the Wurlitzer organ. It also has an 18 feet, 2.5 ton Czech crystal chandelier that hangs from the ceiling of the auditorium which has 5,000 crystals lit by 500 red, green, blue and amber lights.
It also has a natural spring which supplied water to the theater's air conditioning system and a central vacuum system. The theater also has a Lyon and Healey harp which is not meant for playing and a marimba which can be played. The Wurlitzer is played by professionals on Saturday nights by Bob Gulledge, the house organist.
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