Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Lower Dixwell Tour

Lyric Theater

158 Dixwell Avenue

(demolished)

Lyric Theater c. 1925 (one-story building with vertical sign under Uneeda Biscuit sign). Courtesy Colin M. Caplan/United Advertising Corp.

Louis Luippold was the proprietor of the Lyric Theater at No. 158 Dixwell Avenue. Luippold was born in Germany in 1868 and came to the United States in 1892. In 1913 he purchased the Lyric Theater with B.G. Salvini, whom he bought out in 1917. Soon after that, the theater was acquired by Selig Fishman, an ironworker from Kishinev in Russia. There is a story that he was given the deed as remuneration for ironwork he did at the theater with his brother Abraham. They took over the mortgage and found themselves in the entertainment business. A flu epidemic had swept the world in 1917-18 and people had been afraid to go to movie theaters where germs could be spread easily. After the epidemic ended, people returned to movie theaters in droves and never stopped coming.

The Lyric was one of the leading “outlying” movie houses in New Haven in the early 20th century. It had a seating capacity of 460. Every afternoon the theater was sold out as neighborhood kids thronged to the Lyric, which was also known as the “Nicklet” because admission was only a nickel. During the 1920s, and continuing through the Depression and World War II, the neighborhood theater was an important element in New Haven society. The Fishman brothers saw this opportunity and bought and sold a total of ten movie houses over the years.

  • Text source courtesy Everitt Gleason Hill, A Modern History of New Haven and Eastern New Haven County, 1918, and Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven Archives (Fishman Family History).

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