Opened: October 7, 1927. The Lincoln was the largest theatre to be constructed along Central, then the hub of the African American community. The building was a project of Adolph Ramish, whose holdings were later rolled into the West Coast Theatres circuit. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010
An item in the Times on June 22, 1926 that was located by Ken McIntyre had noted:
An October 5, 1927 article in the Times. Thanks to Mike Hume for locating it. Visit his Historic Theatre Photography site for historcal data and hundreds of photos of the theatres he's explored.
The opening day ad. At the invitational premiere the previous evening A. Phillip Randolph, the
head of the Pullman Porters Union, spoke. Blues singer Sarah Martin and Curtis Mosby’s Dixieland Blue Blowers were
on the first week's bill. The revue for the week was "Chocolate Scandals." The
opening picture was First National's "Rose of the Golden West" with Mary
Astor and Gilbert Roland. Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Comfortably Cool for posting the ad on the site's page about the Lincoln.
Architect: John Paxton Perrine designed the Moorish inspired building. He also designed the Fox Redondo, the Roosevelt Theatre in Hawthorne, the California Theatre in San Bernardino and the California Theatre in San Diego.
Seating: 1,960. An opening week article in the Times gave the capacity as 2,100.
An article appearing in the October 14, 1927 issue of the California Eagle, a paper serving the Los Angeles African-American population. Thanks to Jim Lewis for locating the article.
The chorus line at the Lincoln. They were called Mildred Washington's Creole Cuties. It's an undated Los Angeles Public Library photo.
Closing: Sometime around 1961 with Metropolitan Theatres as the last operator. The building was sold in November 1961.
Status: It's been a church since March 1962. After the first church left it was a mosque for a Black Muslim Group. The current group using the building is Ministerios Juda, a group with a Spanish-speaking congregation. Their website: www.pulpitodelaire.org.
The building was designated Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument #744 in 2003. It was placed on the National register in 2009. The L.A.Times had a June 12, 2009 story about the occasion. There's a pdf of the National Register application on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
A look across the balcony. It's a c.2005 photo by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre. See the Theaters (2005-20xx) portfolio on their website for more of their fine work.
c.1961 - Looking south on Central after the theatre closed. Photo: Los Angeles Public Library
c.1961 - "For S LE OR L ASE." Photo: Los Angeles Public Library
c.1962 - Thanks to Cinema Treasures contributor Elmorovivo for posting this photo by Harry Adams on the site's page about the Lincoln. The photo appears in a watermarked version on the website of California State University Northridge, where they date it as 1961. The CSUN collection also includes another photo by Mr. Adams taken at the same time, which they date as 1962.
c.1962 - A closer look at the abandoned theatre. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo that they date as 1960.
1980s - Thanks to American Classic Images for this facade view.
1980s - A south wall view from American Classic Images.
c. 2000 - The theatre between church tenants. It's a photo that appeared on a now-vanished Geocities site about L.A. theatres.
2005 - Thanks to Bob Meza for this photo, one of three he has on the Cinema Tour page about the Lincoln.
2007 - A facade view appearing on Wikimedia Commons. Note that the building has lost its vertical sign.
2007 - A marquee detail. Photo: Ken McIntyre
2007 - The north side of the front of the building. Photo: Ken McIntyre
2007 - Looking toward the street from the stage end of the building. Photo: Ken McIntyre. Thanks, Ken!
2010 - Looking east to the facade. Photo: Bill Counter
2010 - A view from the north. Note the exposed roof trusses. Photo: Bill Counter
More Information: See the Cinema Treasures page on the Lincoln. The Cinema Tour page on the theatre has several 2005 Bob Meza exterior photos.
The Lincoln Theatre is discussed at length in R.J. Smith's "The Great Black Way: LA in the 40's" from Public Affairs Press, New York, 2007. It's available on Amazon.
The L.A. Conservancy has a page on the Lincoln. Also see the Wikipedia article on the theatre. The Lincoln also gets a listing with some history on Wikimapia.
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