King Lincoln Neighborhood Full Of Passion For Theater


Restoring the Lincoln Theatre in the King Lincoln Neighborhood has been a painstaking process, but the restoration has paid off, according to community members.

After more than 30 years sitting vacant, the theater, located along Long Street, was in need of TLC.

"It had to be started from scratch," said Todd Bemis of the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts. "But it was known early on that this theater should be restored to what it looked like when it was last in operation in the 1960s."

Bemis said that organizers wanted the theater to remind those who attended shows in the 1960s to think that they were "home again."

The theater's design was originally inspired by discovery of a child pharaoh.

"King Tut's tomb was discovered in the late 1920s, and that led to a flurry of architects designing Egyptian-style houses through the United States," Bemis said.

Bemis said that the Lincoln Theatre was one of only five theaters that survived with the Egyptian theme.

Artists used old black and white pictures to restore the theater to its original glory. Everything inside was returned to its original look and feel or updated to deal with the changing use of theaters.

The surrounding neighborhood also got a boost from the renovations.

"The condos to the east of us have been renovated," Bemis said. "They were once glorious apartments, but again, fell in disrepair. Now, they're filled back up as those have been renovated to condos. We have an office building across the street that actually preceded this one in opening that's here."

A jazz academy now makes use of the space of the upper floors of the theater.

"It's great to see jazz be a focus," Bemis said. "There were a lot of jazz performances on this stage. So, it does have that rich history of jazz, which it does still have going on today."

The theater features a ballroom and a walk of fame in front.

"We anticipate that we will add one or two names every year," Bemis said. "They will represent people that have had an impact in the (King Lincoln) neighborhood and in the theater. So, we're looking forward to, over the years, that when you come back in 10 years, that on the sidewalk there will be quite a few more names that have had their place of honor."

Bemis said that many people now visiting the theater have never been in the Lincoln Theatre before.

"I have found in working on this project that this neighborhood is full of people who are very passionate about this neighborhood," Bemis said.

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