Arts & Entertainment, Economic Development, Featured

Historic Lincoln Theater awarded design grant

The Alabama State Council on the Arts has awarded the Lincoln Theater, located in Historic Downtown Bessemer, a $21,000 design grant.

The award will finance the creation of architectural drawings for the 71-year-old venue, as well as a design plan for the marquee, signage and façade.

The restoration of the Lincoln will be 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. Learn more at www.alabamalincoln.com.

Built as a 400-seat “picture house” to show first-run movies for African-American audiences, the Lincoln is the last undestroyed black theater in Bessemer and one of only two extant theater buildings in The Marvel City. Upon its grand reopening as a cinema and performing arts space, the Lincoln will show movies and provide production capacity for the performing arts, including drama, dance and music.

Growing up in Bessemer, Andre Holland had often studied the Lincoln – he was a regular at a barbershop on the same block as the abandoned cinema. His parents, Donald and Mary Holland, recounted seeing movies at the Lincoln as teenagers. Andre purchased the building, located on First Avenue North in downtown Bessemer’s National Historic District, in February 2017, with a vision to open it as a single-screen cinema and performing arts center.

“I want to create a space where young people can explore their interests in the arts,” Andre says.

Andre Holland has extensive stage and screen experience, appearing as an actor in half a dozen films, including the Oscar-winning “Moonlight.” He has directed and performed at The Globe in London and the Manhattan Theatre Club, among other renowned venues. Andre will star in “The Eddy,” a musical drama currently in production Paris, to be released on Netflix next year.

In addition to the Lincoln, the non-profit also owns the nearby Albano pharmacy building, a two-story structure built in 1890 on the first lot ever sold in Bessemer. The Albano is located at the corner of Second Avenue North and 19th Street North in Bessemer in the historic district.

Volunteers from the Bessemer Historic Society help clean the Lincoln Theater

Volunteers from the Bessemer Historic Society help clean the Lincoln Theater, 1926 First Avenue North, earlier this month. The Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) has awarded the Lincoln project a design grant. (Photo courtesy of The Cutoff News)