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Plans to restore theater reflect city-county cooperation

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Plans to restore theater reflect city-county cooperation

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Franklin County’s decision to support renovation of the Lincoln Theater is good news, not only for an icon of Columbus’ black community, but for civic cooperation.

The Franklin County commissioners announced last week that they will match the city of Columbus’ $4 million contribution to the Lincoln effort. This is just the latest in a series of cooperative ventures, which include consolidating the area’s airports in 2002 and, starting soon, building a baseball park Downtown.

Reviving the Lincoln, a focal point of black cultural life from the 1930s to the 1960s, long has been close to Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s heart. He envisions it as “a national model,” a showcase for black cultural events, with an auditorium and ballroom booked more than 200 days a year and adjacent storefronts attracting people to the theater and the nearby King Arts Complex.


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  • gramarye

    Hmm. I’ve never actually been to or seen this Lincoln Theater. What’s so significant about it? What goes on there?

  • Walker

    It’s Historic. It’s right in the middle of where the Olde Town East revitalization is occuring. And it’s symbolic of black history in Columbus.

    Here’s a couple links to some info about it. I’m having a hard time finding good info, but I’ve read some sites out there that have a lot of historic detail about the place. Even including some of the names of some of the performers who performed there during it’s heyday. It was basically the black version of the Palace Theater or Ohio Theater or Great Southern Theater.

    Located at 771 E Long Street on Columbus’ Near East Side, this property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its association with the rich cultural history of the African-American community in Columbus. The building was developed by an African-American fraternal organization, and constructed by an African-American construction company. Lincoln Theatre was a center for stage and screen entertainment for Columbus’ African-American residents for decades. It is one of the best remaining vestiges of early 20th-century African-American history in the city.


    The King-Lincoln neighborhood has long been neglected, and the revamped theater will serve as an anchor for the rest of the area. And the partnership with the city reflects the county’s commitment to economic growth.

    Officials have said they need at least $8 million to reopen the theater at 771 E. Long St., just east of I-71. The theater will seat 570 and has four storefronts and a ballroom. Columbus bought the theater for $1 million.

    Mayor Michael B. Coleman, who has pushed the project, said he wants to make the area a cultural center again. The area between Mount Vernon Avenue and Long Street was a thriving district of clubs and bars for Columbus’ black community from the 1930s through the 1960s.

    The theater will provide a venue designed to attract national acts as well as local shows. It will be wired so shows can be broadcast or recorded.


    Google Map Link

    Here are two photos I took while in the area. These are from last February (back when my digital camera worked)…

    The theater up close:

    The King-Lincoln Gateway building under construction. You can see the Lincoln theater on the other side of the street a block down on the far right of the photo:

  • Walker

    County says OK to Lincoln Theater rehab money

    Business First of Columbus – 3:49 PM EST Tuesday

    Franklin County has formally agreed to contribute $4 million to the effort to restore the Lincoln Theater on Columbus’ Near East Side.

    County commissioners Tuesday authorized grant support over four years for the renovation project, which officials hope will improve the neglected neighborhood around the theater. The Lincoln Theater, at 771 E. Long St., became the focus of Mayor Michael Coleman’s interest several years ago, when the city began seeking public and private investment for the estimated $9 million project.

    The 550-seat theater once attracted jazz notables for performances and was at the center of entertainment for the city’s black community over three decades. It sits on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Officials hope to reopen a refurbished theater in 2008.


  • Walker

    RetroMetro wroteThe Lincoln Theatre is a critical cornerstone of the historic King-Lincoln district and complements the King Arts Complex nearby on Mt. Vernon Avenue. The District was once the cultural and commercial heart of Columbus’ African American community, and today suffers from decades of neglect and blight.

    Area improvements include:

    The Gateway Building

    Located at the north east corner of Long and Hamilton

    $6 million project with 60,000 square feet mixed-use (office and retail)

    North of Broad – NOBO

    Located on 20 and 21st Streets between Broad and Mt. Vernon

    Up to 32 Market-rate residential infill housing (new and renovated on 20th and 22nd Sts

    5 homes are built or in-progress, 3 more are in pre-construction and 2 are in the sale process, 2 are sold

    Whitney Young

    Located at Hamilton and Martin Luther King Blvd

    Purchased by the City from HUD in 2004, 54 units demolished on 2 Acres

    New housing construction projected to start Spring of 2007

    Monroe Cluster

    A proposed $4 million residential/commercial mixed-use project just less than 1 acre of City owned property at Monroe and Long Sts. The Long Street frontage will consist of a mixed-use building (retail on the ground floor, residential on upper floors) while the Monroe frontage supports the construction of 18 condominium units in the mid $200,000. Construction projected to start fall of 2006.

    Hamilton Park Condominiums

    Located on the southeast corner of Long and Hamilton

    12 market-rate 1 and 2 bedroom condos

    St. Paul’s Wellness Center

    Located at Long and Jefferson Ave

    $3 million investment is under construction, expected to finish 1st Quarter 2007

    Mt. Vernon Plaza Focal Point

    $400,000 renovation underway. Projected completion is 2007, with new lighting, infrastructure repair & improvements and new green space.


  • Anne

    those NOBO houses aren’t too bad. they are fixing that street or two up nice.

  • Walker

    Yeah, it sounds like there’s a lot of development going on over there. Time to jump in now while it’s still cheap! :wink:

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