Lincoln Square Theatre ~ Decatur, IL

Built in 1916 with the capacity to seat 1,300 patrons, was considered one of the finest of the day. The theatre was not the first building on the site and the string of fires which ultimately brought the theatre into existence prompted designers to ensure the theatre was completely fire-proof. Part of the means of fire-proofing the building was to relocate the boilers and seal them off from the theatre by a 2-foot thick wall.

The first event held at the new theatre was a Christian Science lecture given by John W. Dooley. The official opening wasn’t long after at the end of October in 1916. The first production open to the public was George M. Cohan’s Hit the Trail Holliday. After opening night, people raved about the new theatre talking enthusiastically about everything from the private seating boxes to the general seating which provided excellent views and acoustics.


While initially built for vaudeville acts and stage shows, the Lincoln has seen many uses over the decades, from local high school graduation ceremonies to an alleged appearance by none other than the infamous Harry Houdini.

In 1980 the theatre closed and it wasn’t until 1989, that a team was put together to investigate the viability of restoring the theatre. The next year, Lincoln Square Theatre Inc. came into being as a non-profit organization which would oversee the restoration. It wasn’t until 2005 that restoration work finally began, and the non-profit’s website indicates that most of the mechanical and electrical restoration work is complete.

According to the second source for this write up, the Lincoln Theatre is quite haunted.


Lincoln Square Theatre Inc.
The Lincoln Theatre