For more than 20 years, the name Frank J. Miller was synonymous with entertainment in Augusta, GA. Through his company Augusta Amusements, he and his partners operated five downtown theaters and the brightest star in that constellation was the Miller.
In 1938, Jacksonville-based architect Roy Benjamin was commissioned to design a theater large enough to accommodate the city’s growing audiences. The result was a beautiful Art Moderne-style building that featured Italian marble terrazzo, black walnut millwork and a performance stage framed by fluted columns and hand-painted panels. Named after its founder, the Miller Theater seated over 1600 patrons and was the second largest theater in Georgia, behind only Atlanta’s Fox Theatre.
The Miller opened in February of 1940 with a sold-out performance of “A Night at the Moulin Rouge”, beginning what would be a 40-year run as one of Augusta’s premier entertainment destinations. Hundreds of movies, musical acts and other memorable events found an audience at the Miller Theater.
The theater closed in 1984, falling into disrepair until 2005, when Augusta businessman and philanthropist Peter Knox IV bought it with the goal of preservation. After installing a new roof and updated ventilation system and removing water-damaged carpets and fixtures, Mr. Knox began considering what would be best for the theater and community moving forward. In 2008, Mr. Knox offered the Miller Theater to Symphony Orchestra Augusta (SOA) as a performing venue and home and, after extensive feasibility studies, the Symphony Board of Directors accepted his generous offer.
A capital campaign was launched, and in June 2016, thanks to the generosity of the community and many foundations, coupled with SPLOST funds and federal and state historic preservation tax credits, enough funding was in place to break ground.
The renovation project, which has spanned more than seven years and cost nearly $25 million, is a testament to the volunteers and donors who believed there was real worth in not only preserving an important piece of Augusta history, but also providing its symphony orchestra a permanent home and the community a state-of-the-art venue designed with a variety of artists and stage performances in mind.
To provide and produce diverse programs and events that engage, entertain, and educate.
How we will meet our mission by following our guiding principles:
Leverage our beautiful historic theater to the benefit of the CSRA, enhancing the quality of life in our community
Provide exceptional service and intentional experiences that elevate the Miller Theater and Augusta Symphony on local, regional and national platforms
Utilize best practices to manage events, maintain facilities and operate the venue in a safe and fiscally responsibly manner
Cultivate and strengthen meaningful local connections, align with strategic partners and accelerate the economic growth of the region
Support the vision and mission of the Augusta Symphony
Awards and Recognitions
Since reopening our doors in 2018, the Miller Theater has received numerous awards and recognitions.
These accolades include:
- 2018 Historic Preservation Award – Historic Augusta Incorporated
- 2018 Best of the South Preserving Southern Architecture Award of Excellence – Southeast Chapter Society of Architectural Historians
- 2018 Excellence in Rehabilitation Award – Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
- 2019 Merit Award for Adaptive Reuse/Preservation – American Institute of Architects South Atlantic Region
- 2023 Best Local Theater – Shop Local Augusta
1869 – The King Building, which would become the Miller, is a funeral home & furniture store.
1938 – Frank Miller commissions architect Roy Benjamin to design the Miller Theater.
1940 – The Miller Theater opens: The first show is “A Night at the Moulin Rouge”.
1983 – The Miller Theater shows its last movie.
1984 – The Augusta Ballet, Opera, and Players use the Miller for performances.
1985 – The Miller Theater closes.
2005 – Peter Knox IV purchases the Miller Theater and installs a new roof.
2011 – The Symphony Orchestra Augusta accepts the gift of the Miller Theater from Peter Knox IV and fundraising efforts begin.
2016 – Construction begins for the Miller Theater renovation.
2018 – The Miller Theater opens to a sold out Gala event hosted by the Augusta Symphony.