A historic building in Downtown Atlanta recently got a new look both inside and out. Theatrical Outfit, located in the Balzer Theater at 84 Luckie Street NW, recently unveiled its renovated street façade and new lobby featuring a full bar and spacious seating area. The modern look for this Downtown mainstay marks a new chapter in both the theater’s history and the legacy of the building itself.
In 1934, Herren’s Restaurant opened in the space and became a popular spot for Downtown shoppers and businessmen. During a time when fine dining was only available at private clubs, Herren’s was one of the only options available to the general public. In 1962 amid the Civil Right movement, it was the first white restaurant in the city to desegregate and serve patrons regardless of race. Herren’s was popular throughout the following decades but eventually closed in the late 80s amid urban flight and the opening of Lenox Square, which drew shoppers away from the city center.
The building on Luckie Street remained vacant until 2002 when Bill and Peg Balzer, celebrated patrons of the arts in Atlanta, purchased the site and donated it to Theatrical Outfit. During the conversion of the building in 2005, construction focused on sustainability and environmentally responsible building practices, and it became the first theater in the country to receive LEED certification. The nonprofit has produced performances and programming in the space ever since, presenting five shows each season and providing a range of community engagement and educational programming.
The building’s renovations, which included a full HVAC overhaul, were made possible in part thanks to a gift from the Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, with additional funding raised through Theatrical Outfit’s Heart of the City campaign.
“It’s been amazing to witness the deep commitment of Theatrical Outfit’s family of donors,” said Gretchen Butler, former managing director of the nonprofit. “Theatrical Outfit is excited to continue bringing conversations that matter to the heart of Downtown Atlanta for years to come.”
While the look of the building has come a long way, there’s a thoughtful reminder of the location’s past in its new lobby. Behind the bar, Herren’s name appears on a recreation of the restaurant’s sign, serving as a symbol of the building’s legacy as it moves ahead into its next chapter.
Theatrical Outfit’s latest performance Tiny Beautiful Things runs through April 23rd. To learn more and buy tickets, visit TheatricalOutfit.org.