Georgia Theatre Rises From Ashes

Plans to restore Athens’ historic Georgia Theatre were approved by a state agency almost a year to the day since the venue was destroyed by fire.

Owner Wilmot Greene says that work has already begun on the building and the only hurdle remaining is to work out an agreement with Athens-Clarke County over a parking deck.

Athens First Bank & Trust has approved a construction loan, contingent on the final approval of the plan by Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division. The OK will also allow Greene to draw federal grant money to help pay for the $4 million project, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

The 121-year-old Georgia Theatre was gutted by fire likely started by a cigarette or electrical short June 19, 2009. The fire destroyed not only the building, but $700,000 worth of restoration work Greene had put into the building, which became a concert hall in 1977.