Lincoln Theatre

120 York Street NE,
Aiken, SC 29801

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The Immanuel Institute Building was built in 1889. It became a school, which ceased to operate in 1934, and it was converted into the Lincoln Theatre. Initially it was an African-American theatre, but after fire destroyed the State Theatre on August 11, 1938, the Lincoln Theatre began to cater for white audiences as well as African-American audiences.

In 1939 African-American audiences moved to the New Colored Theatre in town when a new owner of the Lincoln Theatre decided to change its policy.

The Lincoln Theatre was sold in 1942 to the Redemptionist Fathers, an African-American sect of the Catholic Church, and they began the St. Gerard Parish.

Today the Lincoln Theatre is home to the Center for African-American History, Art & Culture.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 19, 2019 at 11:17 pm

I’m not sure what to make of this item from Boxoffice of January 15, 1939. Perhaps the magazine conflated the Lincoln with the “New Colored Theatre,” and the item was actually about the latter house?

“The new Lincoln Theatre for colored people in Aiken, South Carolina‚Äôs winter resort city, was opened last week by I. Efron. E. A. Rosenblatt of the Sound Engineering Service Co., which installed the sound equipment, says the Lincoln is one of the most modern theatres for colored people in the Carolinas. The National Theatre Supply Co., equipped the house. A special box section is reserved for chauffeurs and other servants of tourists and resort vacationists from the north.”
In any case, find it a bit odd that the management would shift to a whites-only policy without changing the name of the theater. Lincoln is not a greatly admired name among southern whites.

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