The Lincoln Square Theater Restoration is Shaping Up

The 100+ year-old Lincoln Square Theater is really starting to come to life after years of restoration. Full restoration will take more funds and talent to restore ornate elements of the theater, but the bones of the building are strong once again. With reliable heat and air conditioning, the building won’t be so subjected to moisture and mold, which wreaks havoc on plaster. It’s now a much more inviting place.

There have also been structural, electrical and plumbing upgrades to bring the building up to code. It continues to be a labor of love for the group of volunteers and local businesses who have donated their time and money.

Recently, tiered flooring was installed to create level spaces for tables and chairs. Radiant heat will be used to make the space much more comfortable and energy efficient. A couple of years ago, all the seating was removed, leaving just a bare sloped concrete floor. The tiers make it possible to host a variety of events in the theater.

A few events have already been booked, and it’s hoped that the theater will be as successful as the Devon Amphitheater in attracting some name brand acts, while also hosting local talent. The tiered floors open up a lot of possibilities for the Lincoln. It’s a game changer, since it can now host receptions, parties, seminars, yoga, you name it.

It’s exciting to see the results of so much hard work. Various groups and organizations have worked over the past 3-4 decades trying to bring life back to the once grand building. It’s survived a fire and years of neglect, but is coming back.

I’m too young to remember the Lincoln Theater being anything but an old building needing repairs. That’s kind of funny, because I’m not that young anymore! My first experiences with the theater were when my daughter, who is now 24, had her YMCA ballet recitals there in the early 2000s.

Even though the theater looked sad, it was obvious what it once was. Like me, most of the audience had never been inside the theater before, and we all hoped it would one day be restored.

Like most old theaters, the sound quality is fantastic in the Lincoln. A mic isn’t needed. Music sounds amazing, even from just a boom box.

I still remember the mice peeking out of the old radiators next to our seats, and the ripped upholstery of the chairs that were still surprisingly comfortable. They just don’t know how to make comfortable seats anymore, it seems.

I’ve been in the basement and backstage, and even on a ghost tour in the theater. If it has ghosts, I think they’re good ones, and they’re probably thrilled to not be hanging out in an old, moldy building by themselves anymore. What good is it to be a ghost, if there’s nobody to scare?

I’m thrilled to see the progress, and it’s even better that it’s the result of so many in the community coming together to support it. That should give us all hope. Decatur has lost such much to the wrecking ball over the past 30-40 years. Nobody wanted to see it go due to our own neglect. We’ve made that mistake too many times with other buildings.

If you would like to support the Lincoln Square Theater, visit their website. Visit the theater’s Facebook page for photos of the restoration and more updates.