3162 N. Lincoln Avenue,
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Previously operated by: Orpheum Circuit
Architects: Robert C. Berlin
Previous Names: Lincoln Theatre, Lincoln-Hippodrome Theatre
Before the nearly 3,300-seat Belmont Theatre opened in 1925, the Lincoln Theatre was the largest and most popular of the Lincoln-Belmont neighborhood’s entertainment venues.
It was built in 1912, and designed by local architect Robert C. Berlin, seating 1,850, at the time one of the largest theatres on Chicago’s North Side. The Lincoln Theatre was built for W. A. Wieboldt, founder of the department store chain bearing his name that were once scattered all over Chicago, and cost around $300,000 to construct.
While the exterior was a mixture of Neo-Classical and Renaissance styles, the interior was originally described as “Persian” and “Oriental” in design.
The Lincoln Theatre was one of the earliest larger-sized theaters in Chicago to be air-conditioned, and was noted for its excellent acoustics, then-cutting-edge technology, and stylish decor.
For most of the 1910’s and 1920’s, the Lincoln-Hippodrome Theatre was part of the Orpheum Circuit, and primarily was a vaudeville house (though from its earliest days screened movies as well). It was still operated by the Orpheum Circuit in 1926. It wasn’t until later in the 1920’s and 1930’s that the Lincoln Theatre turned to movies exclusively.
In 1930, when Ashland Avenue was widened, the theatre lost a small portion of its auditorium, reducing seating by about 300.
The Lincoln Theatre, also known as the Lincoln-Belmont Theatre, remained in operation until about 1950. In 1952, the theatre was gutted and transformed into a retail store.
Like its neighbor, the Belmont Theatre, the actual theatre portion of the Lincoln Theatre has been demolished, replaced by condominiums in 2000, but, also like the Belmont Theatre, portions of the old theatre have been incorporated into the new condominium building.
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