The Lincoln Theatre was built in 1948 as a 400-seat “picture house” to show first-run movies for African-American audiences during the days of segregation. It is the last undestroyed black theatre in Bessemer, Alabama and one of only two surviving theatre buildings in the city. In the first half of the 20th century, Bessemer had three cinemas and one drive-in. The Lincoln Theatre was shuttered sometime in the 1970s.
The Lincoln Theatre is set to reopen in late 2020 or early 2021. Upon its grand reopening as a cinema and performing arts venue, the Lincoln will show movies and provide production capacity for drama, dance, and music performances. The restoration is the first major initiative of The Holland Project, a non-profit organization founded in 2017 by the family of acclaimed actor and Bessemer native Andre Holland (Moonlight, Selma, 42, The Knick, High Flying Bird). The mission of the Lincoln Theatre and The Holland Project is to preserve, promote, present, and celebrate diverse cultures with special emphasis on African-American cultural heritage. The group was awarded a $21,000 grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts in 2019 to support the design phase. The Lincoln also has a commitment for a historic facade grant of $100,000 from the City of Bessemer. You can donate to the restoration and follow their progress here.