On Stage and Off

Theater in Georgia

Theater Preservation

As the losses mounted, grassroots preservationists began identifying historic theaters around the state, leading in 1951 to the founding of the Georgia Historical Commission (GHC), Georgia’s first statewide preservation authority. Fifteen years later, The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 provided another catalyst for preservationists. The legislation spurred a burgeoning preservation movement in Savannah, where legislators passed the state's first historic preservation ordinance, giving legal protection to the downtown Savannah Historic District. The work in Savannah prompted the passage of the Georgia Historic Preservation Act, which allowed local governments to establish historic districts and appoint commissions to regulate changes to buildings and review new construction within historic districts. Despite the significant strides in state and local legislation, private and corporate preservationists like the Fox Theatre Institute were essential to the preservation and renovation of many historic Georgia theaters. Community fundraising and local donations provided the necessary funds to restore and reopen the long-closed Tybee Post Theater and Calhoun’s GEM Theatre, both of which faced demolition in the early 2000s before their rescue.