Lincoln Theatre

1915 Jefferson Avenue,
Newport News, VA 23607

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Additional Info

Architects: Herbert Woodley Simpson

Functions: Church

Previous Names: Capitol Theatre

Nearby Theaters

Lincoln Theatre

Located at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 20th Street. The Lincoln Theatre was a vaudeville & movie theatre, which opened in 1919. It catered for an African-American audience, and by 1927 (recently renamed Capitol Theatre) it had dropped films from its programming and converted into a church.

It is now the Gospel Spreading Church of God.

Contributed by Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 6 comments)

wsasser on March 3, 2013 at 11:02 am

Based on news stories in the Norfolk Journal and Guide, it appears that the Lincoln closed in 1927 and was immediately renamed the Capitol. Just months later, the Capitol was sold to Elder Michaux who converted it into a Church of God.

There was a story dated Sept 10, 1927 announcing that the Capitol was opening in the old Lincoln Theater on Jefferson Ave.

Another story dated Nov 5, 1927 tells of the opening of Church of God in the old Capitol Theater Building.

The building still stands and and is the Gospel Spreading Church of God to this day.

CharmaineZoe on February 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Opened in August 1919 it was erected by Messrs Ornuff & Cohen Bros. of Newport News. In 1920 it was damaged by water and smoke when an adjoining building was destroyed by fire. Later that year it was bought by Messrs Stevens & Brown, coloured bankers from Philadelphia PA., who already owned the Dunbar Theatre in that city.It was repaired & redecorated and operating again by July 1920.

wsasser on February 9, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Hey CharmainZoe, thanks for the update. The Newport News City Directory shows it for the first time in 1920 which would agree with 1919 since the Dir. generally trails a year. I have a June 1920 ad that shows the Lincoln being managed by William M. Moseley with E.C. Brown as President and General Manager which supports your post. However, there has never been, to my knowledge, a Dunbar in Newport News. There was a Dunbar across the water in Norfolk. Could you tell me where you got your information because it might serve me in my local research.

CharmaineZoe on February 10, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Hi wsasser, sorry, you misunderstood me when I mentioned the Dunbar. Messrs Stevens and Brown were Philadelphians and the Dunbar (later becoming the Lincoln) was in that city, not Newport News. My source is the Motion Picture News for July 17th 1920, Page 659.

wsasser on February 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Hey CharmainZoe, sorry for my misread. But a ton of thanks for the source, it has filled a big hole in my research. Are you familiar with the Motion Picture Daily Archives. Can get you there if you need to.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on November 28, 2014 at 4:37 pm

This item is from the October 12, 1918, issue of The Moving Picture World:

“NEWPORT NEWS, VA.—J. Ormof, 20th street and Jefferson avenue, has plans by W. H. Simpson, Board of Trade Building, Norfolk, Va., for one-story theatre, 50 by 100 feet, to cost $25,000.”
An item in The American Contractor of November 2, 1918, probably gets the owner’s name right, but mistakenly places the address in Philadelphia:
“Newport News, Va.—Theater: $25,000. 1 sty. 50x100. Archt. W. H. Simpson, Bd. of Trade bldg., Norfolk, Va. Owner I. Ornof, 20th & Jefferson sts., Phila., Pa. Gen. contr. let to J. R. Osbourne & Son, Inc., 1014 25th St., Newport News.”
The name I. Ornof also appears in a news item mentioning the project in the September 1, 1918, issue of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

I can’t find any other references to an architect named W. H. Simpson in Norfolk and suspect that MPW and AC both got his first and middle initials switched, and it was actually Norfolk architect H. W. (Herbert Woodley) Simpson who designed the Lincoln Theatre. Simpson had previously practiced in New Bern, North Carolina, where he designed the Athens Theatre. He moved to Norfolk sometime prior to 1915 and was quite successful in his new location.

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