Georgia Theatre, Athens

My daytime shot doesn’t really do this Athens icon justice, but when I was hanging out with my favorite local photographer at the Globe the night before, it never crossed my mind. [I’ll see if I can find some other, older shots]. But I digress.

Located on North Lumpkin Street in the heart of downtown, the Georgia Theatre has been, along with the 40 Watt Club, one of the centers of the thriving Athens music scene for many years. “Athens music scene” means different things to different people, but the Georgia Theatre has covered all the bases, hosting local favorites, as well as nationally known acts of all genres.

Opened in the late 1930s* the Georgia Theatre has had a varied history, both as a movie and live music venue. Various owners and even name changes have been a part of the chronology. After being gutted by fire on 19 June 2009, it was rebuilt using the original walls and remains a beloved landmark.

*- A comment by Joe Vogel on Cinema Treasures incorporates an interesting primary source: An article in the October 13, 1936 issue of Film Daily listed 22 theaters either recently opened or under construction in Georgia, and the Georgia Theatre at Athens was among them. It was opened by Lucas & Jenkins, who already had the Palace Theatre in Athens. The article didn’t specify which houses had already opened, so the Georgia might not have opened until early 1937.


5 thoughts on “Georgia Theatre, Athens

  1. AK

    I went to a couple of shows here, nice place. There’s a great rooftop bar on top as well, or at least there was one last time I was in Athens.

    1. Chris C.

      Tbh, this is not a great venue to see a concert. It’s cramped and for each level only the first few rows of seats can see the stage. Else wise, your’re just staring at the back of someone else’s head the entire show whether reseated or, more likely, standing. The rooftop bar area is kind of cool if the weather is cooperating and you don’t mind a single loud speaker blaring out what is being played on stage inside in a mono-distorted vintage 1930’s sort of way – with no video feed – so, there that I guess. Overall, this venue is cute but is kind of lame to actually see a show there.

      1. AK

        Fair enough. Every time I went there I ended up stone drunk anyway so that probably sweetened those memories, along with the fact that they were easier days for me.

  2. Rafe Semmes

    Hello, Bryan, I went to movies here (and at the Palace Theatre nearby) many times in the early ’70’s, when I was a student at UGA.  It closed, as I recall, some years later, then reopened as a music venue.  I was long gone by then, so never experienced that part of it.  But many folks will remember it as a movie theatre. The Varsity was nearby, and Tony’s Italian Restaurant — long a mainstay of downtown, was only a block or two east.  I ate there frequently on the weekends, when a “meat and three” plate was $1.25.

    Rafe SemmesSavannah/Midway GA


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