Lincoln Square Theatre

141 N. Main Street,
Decatur, IL 62523

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Lincoln Square Theatre, Decatur, IL

The Lincoln Square Theatre was built in 1916 by the local architectual firm of Aschauer and Waggoner. The design was in the Art Nouveau and Beaux Arts style popular of that time. It was opened October 31, 1916.

The Lincoln Square Theatre was designed similar in appearance to the ornate opera houses of the early-20th century. The theatre originally seated nearly 1,400 people and presented live theatre, concerts, opera, as well as vaudeville and silent films. It was considered a fireproof theatre and is constructed of steel and concrete and fireproof brick. It was equipped with a Barton theatre organ which had two 3 manual consoles.

Many of the most famous performers of the early decades of the 20th century tread the boards at the Lincoln Square Theatre, including Houdini, Harry Blackstone, Ethel Barrymore, and Bob Hope.

For many years the Lincoln Theatre (as it was later known, without the “Square”) was leased by the Springfield, Illinois-based Kerasotes movie theatre chain. The stage is quite large and featured two large columns that flanked the stage. The columns were topped by bowls of light held up by seahorses. The auditorium had a mezzanine comprised of box seats and a large third balcony. While much of the theatre’s original plasterwork remains, a great deal of it had been covered up or damaged.

Since the early-1990’s, the Lincoln Square Theatre has been in the midst of an ongoing restoration and renovation project, as funds permit, and much work has already been done to bring this Decatur movie palace back to its original splendor.

While work continues on the Lincoln Square Theatre, the theatre was open and was host to live entertainment, concerts and various special events throughout the year. It was closed in May 2017.

Contributed by Dave Wiegers

Recent comments (view all 22 comments)

Don Lewis
Don Lewis on August 18, 2008 at 4:34 pm

A view of the Lincoln Theater in Decatur while it was closed and for sale can be seen here and here.

dave-bronx™ on December 19, 2008 at 11:38 pm

This theatre was featured on “Most Terrifying Places in America” on the Travel Channel Friday evening (12/19). Apparently it has a reputation for being haunted. The balcony and a spiral stairway backstage are particularly active. The theatre is built on the site of a hotel that had burned down, claiming a number of lives.

TLSLOEWS on February 3, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Nice pitcure Chuck1231.

Ramova7719 on June 17, 2010 at 7:11 pm

What happend to the front and the side of the building?

0123456789 on August 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Its burned in 1960.

LIRefugee on February 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm

It seems that as of February 2, the theatre is up for sale. A full explanation can be found on the website . It seems that the it has faces a host of issues, including botched renovations, lightning strikes, and insurance fraud, with the loss of grant money thrown in.

Part of the botched renovation included the non-replacement of the heating system, and a poorly working heating system has caused the theatre to remain closed until March of this year. It’s a shame.

rivest266 on February 10, 2016 at 5:29 pm

This opened on October 31st, 1916. Grand opening ad from a week before in photo section.

DavidZornig on June 22, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Glimpse of the marquee in a 1952 photo added courtesy of the AmeriCar The Beautiful Facebook page.

Khnemu on May 22, 2017 at 7:43 pm

The Lincoln Square closed again earlier this month. The theater’s Facebook page says the closure is just “for the time being”.

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