Over a century of history
Since the early 1900s, the members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist worshiped at—and took loving care of—their magnificent building, including a breathtaking 700 seat auditorium where worship services were held and a spacious Sunday School hall with a balcony. When the members began to consider selling their beloved building, located at 440 East Avenue near downtown Rochester, they were mindful of preserving the character of this National Historic Landmark.
The Rochester Lyric Opera (RLO), meanwhile, was looking for a permanent home for its performances and educational programming. Although the RLO leadership was near a decision on another site, they jumped at the chance to view this building when they learned it might be available. One visit was enough to convince them that they were looking at the future Rochester Lyric Theater. The Christian Science congregation was delighted to find an appropriate steward for its architectural treasure.
Designed with acoustics in mind
Built in 1915, the church was designed by William G. Kaelber and William V. Madden, two architects who, alone and working with others, were responsible for many of the hallmark buildings that shaped Rochester during the early part of the 20th Century. The church was designed and built to Christian Science specifications, including an “auditorium … as to produce perfect acoustics.” It is said that George Eastman, who frequently worked with Mr. Kaelber and his firm, was so inspired by the beauty of the church’s design, he asked Mr. Kaelber to design the Eastman Theater.
Located in Rochester’s vibrant Neighborhood Of The Arts
Commanding prime street-front real estate in the heart of Rochester’s entertainment, historical and cultural district, the building is integral to the character of the surrounding East End and East Avenue neighborhoods. It joins several landmark buildings in the Neighborhood of the Arts that have been converted from private to public use, including the current School of the Arts, Memorial Art Gallery, Visual Studies Workshop and George Eastman House.
An ideal setting for performances and events—inside and out
The Lyric Theater has two theater spaces that carefully preserve the church’s visual splendor and acoustical perfection. It is beautifully functional and technically optimal to use as both performance and lecture halls.
The main hall offers an auditorium with a seating capacity of up to 700 with near-perfect acoustics. It’s an ideal setting for concerts, theatre performances, lectures and large recitals.
The charming adjacent former Sunday school space has become a cabaret hall-style venue with a seating capacity of 150–175 for performances and 200 for receptions. It is perfectly suited for intimate recitals, lectures, rehearsals and small group performances, and serves as a splendid reception area and gathering space for patrons before, during and after performances.
The building’s stately exterior, with its columned portico and yard opening onto East Avenue, offers ample space for outdoor presentations and festivals.
Think this might be the perfect place for your event or production? More about renting the Lyric Theatre here.
The Lyric Theatre past & present
Rave reviews for the Lyric Theatre—right from the beginning
“An attractive, state-of-the-art facility of this size is not to be found in Rochester. [T]he Theater, once completed, will provide a phenomenal, world-class performance space…to many local performing arts organizations. [I am] also confident that the Theater will…attract national and international acts that would otherwise not be booked in this region due to lack of an appropriate venue.”
Executive Director, Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
“The adaptive reuse of one of Rochester’s architectural gems, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, into a state-of-the-art theater…will add to Rochester’s flourishing artistic culture.”
Lovely A. Warren
Mayor, City of Rochester
“In a word, our Board would say ‘Bravo!’ This is the biggest thing to happen in our neighborhood in the last 30 or 40 years. We see nothing but good here. We think it’s really in sync with everything that is happening in the area. We are very enthusiastic about this.”
Chair of the Board, Park-Meigs Neighborhood Association
“Our congregation is so delighted to come together with Rochester Lyric Opera to open the door to this fantastic possibility for our city. The beauty and harmony that occurred in this structure as a place of worship for nearly a century can now continue with the beauty and harmony of wonderful musical performances for our community for years to come.”
Board Chair, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Rochester
The Lyric Theatre team is here for you!
Looking for the perfect place to perform, hold a private event or see a show? We’ll help make planning, volunteering for, performing in and attending an event at the Lyric Theatre a top-notch experience.