Lucas Theatre for the Arts
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Interior of the Lucas Theatre
The Lucas Theatre was built in 1921 by Arthur Lucas and architect C.K. Howell. Howell designed theaters across the country and Lucas owned more than 20 theaters throughout the South, though the Lucas Theatre in Savannah is the only one to bear his name.

Built primarily as a movie palace, the theater also incorporated a stage for road shows. During its first year, Arthur Lucas sent birthday cards to Savannah residents containing coupons for free admission. He watched the wedding and birth announcements and sent his own congratulations in the form of free tickets. His promotional efforts paid off, and for the next 40 years, the Lucas Theatre became a favorite venue for talkies, musicals, traveling troupes, revues and theatricals.

With the advent of television and the population shift to the suburbs, the theater era began to wane. The Lucas Theatre closed in 1976 after a deserted screening of "The Exorcist." There were several attempts to convert it into a viable space, and it was used as a dinner theater and comedy club. But none of the ventures was successful, and the building was slated for demolition more than once.

In 1986, with the theater once again threatened by the wrecking ball, a group of citizens pooled their resources, bought the building and created the Lucas Theatre for the Arts Inc. They began a 14-year campaign and completed a $14 million restoration. Supported by donations from Savannahians and such celebrities as Kevin Spacey and the cast and crew of "Forrest Gump," the Lucas had a grand reopening in December 2000.

The theaterís future is now assured by a relationship with the Savannah College of Art and Design. The college supports the theater's overhead and uses it for a number of events including the Savannah Film Festival. The collegeís support also allows for a wide range of community uses: the Lucas has presented top-line entertainment including opera from London and Italy, European orchestras, country stars, traveling repertory companies and film series. These events bring in an average of more than 1,000 people per week.