Lincoln Theater, Belleville, IL
Opened on October 6, 1921 with four acts of vaudeville and a silent movie, “The Old Nest”, the Lincoln Theatre soon became the premier theatre in all of southern Illinois. The original admission for adults was 27¢ for the balcony and 36¢ for the main floor. On January 10, 1922, the St. Clair County Historical Society presented a bronze plaque to be placed on the theatre building commemorating Charles Dickens’ stay at the Mansion House Hotel. The Mansion House Hotel stood on the same site as the Lincoln Theatre. Many great stars have appeared at the Lincoln including a young Ginger Rogers in November of 1926. About the same time, a fresh, new comedy act called the Three Nightingales, who later changed their name to the Marx Brothers, appeared in this theatre. On Thursday nights, amateurs from the audience could perform on stage.
In 1927, a Wurlitzer organ was purchased for $30,000 and installed to replace the orchestra. This instrument was called a Unit Orchestra since it allowed full accompaniment to silent films while only having to pay one musician. Vin James, who was once the orchestra conductor, was hired as the regular organist. “Four Sons”, the last silent film at the Lincoln, played on March 13, 1929 and the organ was soon to be silenced on August 2, 1929, due to the popularity of the new talkie movies. It was then completely removed at a later date. In the 1950’s Cinemascope arrived at the Lincoln and the lower part of the chandelier had to be removed because it caused a shadow on the new movie screen. The first Cinemascope picture to play the Lincoln was “The Robe”.