The New Astor was built for $100,000 as a vaudeville and movie house. After closing for a time in 1930, it reopened in 1932 as the Rialto Theatre. The theatre was extensively damaged by a ventilation system fire in January 1933 but was repaired and reopened relatively quickly. The theatre was renamed the Dixie Theatre sometime in the 1930s. The Dixie ceased regular film screenings in 1976 and was used primarily as a live music venue until the mid 1990s. Plans for turning the theatre into a performing arts center began forming in 1996, leading to state funding in 1999 and a long series of renovations that completed around the time I took these photos in September, 2006.
As a young man, I harbored the populist idea of writing for the public. I learned that the public didn't care. So I decided to write for myself. Since then, people have gotten interested. (Elliott Carter)