SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - There is so much history in Savannah that some can get overlooked, like the historic Savannah Theater that snuck up on a significant milestone Tuesday.
Oscar Wilde, WC Fields, and Lionel Barrymore are all acting legends who are long gone, but the place where they - and thousands of others - have performed in Savannah is still around.
“This was the place where you went for entertainment in Savannah,” said Matthew Meece, Co-owner/Manager, Savannah Theater.
America’s oldest continuously operating theater turned 200 on Tuesday - on the corner of Bull and McDonough streets, where is has stood since 1818 - and where it is still entertaining locals and visitors.
“Family-friendly, accessible option for theater,” said Michelle Meece, Co-owner/Manager, Savannah Theater.
This is what the Savannah Theater has been for the past 17 years that Matthew and Michelle Meece have been part of the ownership and management team.
“We’re 200 years old. We’ve had three face lifts or so.”
The building that was almost destroyed by fire twice was converted to a single-screen movie theater and back for live theater, has had multiple lives.
“So much of the community had something to do with this building over the years. There’s people who came here in the 60s to see their first movies, and now we even have kids coming in 20 years old saying, ‘oh my parents brought us there when I was little.’
While only one original brick wall backstage remains from 200 years ago, the Savannah Theater remains as it was then, and the Meece’s say it will.
“As long as we’re here, it’s going to be a theater, and whenever we’re not here, we’re going to make sure whoever takes over after us will keep it as a theater, too.”
And also keep it a part of Savannah history.
“It is pretty special. We run through that backstage cross and I’m very aware that we’re running past 1818 brick commissioned by Andrew Telfair, build and designed by William Jay, and I don’t take that lightly, even though I’m running in high heels trying to get on stage and dance. It’s pretty special.”
The last time the Savannah Theater was sold, several parties were interested in the property for a variety of other uses, but it was written into the deed that it must remain an operating theater.