When the Lincoln Theatre opened its doors in 1928, it was the only theatre for people of color in the city of New Orleans. The building was located at 2514 Washington Avenue and had replaced an earlier one on Louisiana Avenue at Lasalle.
An article in the May 10,1930 edition of The Louisiana Weekly advertised it as being “The Greatest Colored Playhouse South”. It was located near several long distance car lines which made it easy for people across the city to get to. There were no stairs to climb, new carpets on the floor, and oriental style draperies on the walls. It was a modern brick 8,424 square foot building with 1,210 seats. The owner, Jacques Dicharry, wanted everyone to know that thousands of dollars in theatrical equipment had been installed here, especially the brand new R.C.A. Photo Phone, the same one as in the Orpheum Theatre which was the best in the city. As a result, one would hear voluminous sounds and distinct tone.
The great comedy drama opening that week was The Cock-Eyed World and everyone was told it would “thrill you, rill you, rock you, make you hold your breath and squeeze your seat.” The article ends by letting its readers know that they were the only theatre in New Orleans using a colored operator “so come on down and let the Lincoln make your blues turn white.”
In its early years, the Lincoln specialized in live shows and attractions. Concerts, meetings, and musical programs were held there. Ministers used the theatre to preach. In 1930 a doll party for little colored girls under 14 were invited to come see The Singing Dolls. More than a thousand girls showed up.
As films became popular in the mid-1930s, patrons rushed to see Buck Jones, Gene Autrey, and Mae West. It was during this period that the Lincoln became the first neighborhood theatre to be air conditioned.
Over the next 3 decades (1940s-1960s) the Lincoln specialized in double featured Western and adventure films. In 1946, the Lincoln Theatre’s safe was stolen by three men who rolled it down the street in a wheelbarrow. Fortunately, neighbors yelled at the men and they dropped the safe which was soon returned to its owner, Jacques Dicharry.
Finally, on October 10, 1968 the last picture was shown at the Lincoln. In 1970, the Housing Authority of New Orleans acquired the theatre. By1974, the building was demolished and replaced by the Harmony Community Center.
Sources: There’s One In Your Neighborhood: The Lost Movie Theatres of New Orleans, Rene Brunet Jr. and Jack Stewart (2012) published by: Arthur Hardy Enterprises, Inc. / The Louisiana Weekly 10 May 1930 p.4.