Did you know the Orpheum theater was almost demolished in 1976?? The original structure, called The Grand Opera House, was built in 1890. It became known as the Orpheum in 1907 and was home of some of the finest Vaudeville acts in the south. This building burned to the ground in the famous fire of 1923. In 1928 it was rebuilt and reopened with much fanfare. The new building was twice the size of the original and built to show both live performances and silent movies. The building was purchased by M. A. Lightman for only $75,000 in 1940 and begin its run as a first-run movie theater. After over 30 years as a theater, the Orpheum showed its final film in 1976. Malco sold the building and plans were made to demolish it in favor of office space. Luckily, a group of concerned Memphis citizens formed the Memphis Development Foundation and purchased this treasure off the courthouse steps a year later. It was one of the first buildings in Memphis to be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The grand theater reopen in January 1984 and in the last 34 years has presented more Broadway touring productions on average than any other theater in the United States. Another good Memphis save!