Academy Center of the Arts Lynchburg 

Academy Center of the Arts

CJMW was honored to be a part of restoring this historic restoration. The Academy Center of the Arts is a wonderful example of how CJMW not only designed the restoration of a historic building, but also assisted a community in applying for tax credits to help fund the project. The Theater first opened in 1905 but was gutted by fire six years later. It re-opened in 1912, completely (and speedily!) re-built in the Beaux Arts style. During the next two decades, it was a regular destination for major Broadway Road productions, hosting performances from legends such as humorist Will Rogers, “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy, actress Ethel Barrymore and the notorious Ziegfeld Follies. After the golden age of live performance came to an end around 1928, the theater was converted to a movie theater that closed in 1958. In the following decades, historic-minded citizens saved the theater from demolition but were unable to raise the funds to do a full restoration. In 2012, a capital campaign was launched, supported by CJMW’s master plan for the theater. The campaign was successful in raising $16.75 million, exceeding the original goal of $16.6 million. The rest of the estimated project cost of $29 million came from federal historic tax credits. The restored theater is the centerpiece of its umbrella organization, the Academy Center of the Arts, a regional organization offering arts and education classes as well as a studio theater. The completed Academy of Music Theater opened in late 2018, seating approximately 850 on the house level and in two balconies for a wide variety of live performances. Improvements include modern theater lighting and sound systems; new efficient and quiet HVAC systems; structural stabilization; acoustic and light isolation; backstage space programming; and repairs to historic finishes. A new transparent and minimalist lobby connects the Theater to administrative spaces and patron amenities in the adjacent support building. The project has been recognized with awards from the Virginia Main Street Organization and the Lynchburg Historic Foundation.