THE LINCOLN THEATER
Copyright 2000 by Troy Taylor, All Rights Reserved
This photo of the Lincoln Theater was taken in the 1940's while it was still in its prime. A fire in the early 1960's destroyed some of the architecture above the marquee, although recent renovations have restored some of what was lost.
The LINCOLN THEATER was built in 1916 on the site of the former Arcade Hotel in downtown Decatur. The previous building burned down the year before, and several lives were lost in the fire. The theater was used primarily as a vaudeville house for many years, playing host to performers like Bob Hope, Al Jolson and Harry Houdini. The great magician probably left a greater mark on the Lincoln than any other performer. He convinced the theater manager to allow him to cut a trap door in the stage for his act. That door can still be seen today.
Rumors of a haunting at the Lincoln have circulated for years and strange reports and sightings even continue today. The resident ghost has been nicknamed "One-Armed Red". He is the spirit of a stage hand who was killed in the early days of the theater. He plunged from the catwalks above the stage and had his arm torn from his body in the fall. He lived just long enough to promise to return to his beloved theater.
Many have reported strange sounds and shadows in the theater, especially in the balcony and on the spiral metal staircase, which is located in the back corner of the state. A number of credible witnesses have reported bizarre apparitions and strange encounters on this staircase.
The Lincoln Theater is located at 141 North Main Street in Decatur, Illinois.