Lincoln Theater

5414 Bexar Street,
Dallas, TX 75215

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Lincoln Theatre - (South) Dallas Tx Demolished

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I couldn’t find much on the Lincoln Theater. It was opened in early-1947, and was patronized solely by African Americans at that time. As of 2004 the building was still standing vacant. It had been demolished by early 2010.

Any further information on the Lincoln Theater would be appreciated.

Contributed by Lost Memory

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 15, 2005 at 7:34 am

A 2004 photo of the former Lincoln Theater can be seen here:
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on June 15, 2005 at 8:33 am

I found a photo of someone picketing this theater in 1949. The caption reads:

“S. R. Tankersley, with the Negro Moving Picture Machine Operators Union, protesting in front of the Lincoln Theater at 5414 Bexar Street. The theater was patronized solely by blacks but employed a white projectionist. Owners of the theater sued and won an injunction against the union to prevent them from using the word "Negro” on the pickets.
December 1949".

Photo here:
View link

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 4, 2007 at 8:48 am

This is a 10/30/2006 article about the former Lincoln Theater.

“S. Dallas theater in tug-of-war: City might try to use eminent domain; heirs say price is unfair.

Source: Dallas Morning News
Byline: Emily Ramshaw

Oct. 30—Lee Bilal was a black icon in Dallas: a war veteran, a small-business owner and one of the city’s first black police officers. But since his death in May, a historic but dilapidated theater he owned on South Dallas' Bexar Street has sparked a rift between his heirs and the city of Dallas.

Dallas officials have tried — directly and indirectly — to buy the property from the Bilal family twice in the last 18 months, saying it’s a key element of a $14 million revitalization effort on the crumbling strip. Those deals broke down — over money, over questions of ownership and titles, and finally, over Mr. Bilal’s will.

Six months later, Dallas officials are trying again. This time, they want to buy part of the property to build wide, boulevard-style sidewalks along Bexar, a move that would require demolishing the long-vacant Lincoln Theater. Housing officials say they’ll decide today whether to ask for City Council approval to use eminent domain as a last resort.

“We’ll pay fair market value,” said Ryan Evans, first assistant city manager. “We really need that property.”

But Mr. Bilal’s widow, Jacquelyn, says that City Hall’s latest offer isn’t good enough and that Dallas officials are rushing her while she’s still grieving. And she says they’ve “pushed” her husband around in life and in death.

In 2004, at age 85, Mr. Bilal was jailed for contempt of court after being charged with failing to make fire-safety repairs to a commercial building he owned on Second Avenue. Mr. Bilal said he couldn’t afford the repairs.

“My husband just passed in May, and here they are, trying to dump this on me real quick,” Mrs. Bilal said. “I’ve seen a lot of dollars. Some little old chicken feed don’t excite me.”

“At this point, I don’t think it’s a good deal, ” Mrs. Bilal said.

The Bexar Street Project — a retail and affordable-housing project for the historically black community — has been in the works for several years, spearheaded by City Council member Leo Chaney and the city’s housing and economic development staff.

Construction on the five-block corridor is scheduled to begin early next year. The former theater, a crumbling edifice that has been vacant for more than two decades, is an important piece of the revitalization project, said Terry Williams, a Dallas housing manager responsible for buying lots along the strip.

As recently as June 2005, a Dallas community development corporation sought city funding to rehabilitate the theater into a child enrichment center. The organization offered Mr. Bilal $80,000 for the property, which was appraised at $82,000. Mr. Bilal never accepted, and the deal fell apart.

But nearly a year later, city officials made a startling discovery: Mr. Bilal might not be the property’s true owner. Title records showed Mr. Bilal had given the theater to his brother and business partner, Luther Brotherton Jr., in 1980. In 1982, Mr. Brotherton granted Mr. Bilal power of attorney. A year later, Mr. Brotherton reportedly transferred the theater back to Mr. Bilal. Mr. Brotherton died a few days later.

A title company working with city officials ruled that the final transaction was suspect and not valid, and city officials decided to negotiate a purchase with Mr. Brotherton’s heirs instead. But in the time that it took to get the City Council to approve an $82,000 offer for Mr. Bilal’s nieces and nephews, Mr. Bilal passed away.

The deal, which the title company said would have required Mrs. Bilal’s approval and a yet-to-be probated will, burned out last summer.

Dallas officials haven’t given up. They’re extending another offer this fall — this time for the portion of the property needed to install wide pedestrian sidewalks along an upgraded Bexar Street. The sidewalk project would require demolition of the decrepit theater.

By law, the city can seize property for public infrastructure using eminent domain — a possibility if the Bilal family doesn’t make the sale. Housing officials originally intended to ask the council to authorize eminent domain as a last resort at a Nov. 8 meeting. They said Friday that they now may not seek that authority.

Meanwhile, the structure and its roof have deteriorated so much in the last two years that the appraised value of the property has dropped, Mr. Williams said. Whether the city purchases or seizes the property, the Bilal and Brotherton heirs are now slated to receive $34,000 and maintain a portion of the land. Eventually, the city hopes to purchase the remainder of the lot.

Preserving the building “was our intention, but it got to be less and less feasible as time went on,” Mr. Williams said. “Once part of the roof falls in, the rain wipes out everything inside. They’ve lost 50 percent of the value, at least.”

Mrs. Bilal says she doesn’t want to hold onto the property forever. But after years of city officials “being so ugly toward my husband,” she wishes they would just hold their horses.

Mr. Bilal handled all the property transactions, Mrs. Bilal said; since his death, she’s had a steep learning curve. And she wants to get her own appraisal. Her phone rings “all the time” with people interested in buying the old theater, she said. The city’s offer “sounds low.”

“For all I know, it might be quadruple the amount they’ve offered,” she said. “So much has been going on this past year. It’s just left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Mr. Chaney, a longtime advocate of the Bexar Street Project, said that the vacant theater no longer appears to be salvageable and that the property is incredibly important to the revitalization effort. But he said he’s optimistic the negotiation with the Bilals won’t end in eminent domain.

“I’m hopeful we can work something out between the family and the [city] staff that’s amicable,” he said. “Eminent domain draws all kinds of frowns to my face”.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on March 4, 2007 at 11:58 am

This is a recent photo of the Lincoln Theater.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on December 1, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Seating in 1955 was 450.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on June 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm

The November 30, 1946, issue of Boxoffice Magazine ran an item about the Lincoln Theatre, headlined “New Dallas Negro Theatre To Open Early in 1947.” The item said the new house was to have about 500 seats.

drivein2001
drivein2001 on February 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Going by this area today (2-6-10), this Theatre has been demolished, making another old Theatre just a Memory..
Randy A. Carlisle
Historical Photographer
Dallas (Waxahachie) Texas

Driveintheatre2001
Driveintheatre2001 on August 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Here’s another photo to share with you all.. From March 4 2007 .. http://www.flickr.com/photos/racphotography/539946333/ .. RAC Photography

Driveintheatre2001
Driveintheatre2001 on March 2, 2014 at 8:17 pm

Just downloaded the photo above of the Lincoln Theatre & its neighboring building.. Sad, it is no longer standing.. Randy Randy A Carlisle – Historical Photographer

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