1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr.
Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of
Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of LCHS Class of 1960
dignitaries & the Blanfords
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois,
on October 11, 1950?
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away,
revisits, and career:
About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me
A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold
Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and
the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln
Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and
email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos
related to Lincoln, Illinois)
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001
Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography
Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography,
Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski
Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's
Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois
Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of
Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine,
Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and
Correspondent with William Maxwell
Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their
connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of
family fun at Lincoln Lakes
Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois,
Memoirs & Other Stories
Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956
Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His
Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
Internet Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.
Your computer's setting may alter the display.
April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State Historical
achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater
of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
and Entertainment Heritage
". . . perhaps they [Chautauqua musicians] were the instruments of Change,
pointing towards the fast automobiles, the golf courses, and the
Sunday-night movies of the future. . . . The grey-haired members of
the audience, guardians of a gentle Calvinistic [Puritanical] era and with
fixed ideas of what entertainment was appropriate to a day of worship sat
shocked and disapproving. The rest applauded wildly, reminded of
something they had almost forgotten or known only in snatches-- of how
wonderful it is to be young. . . ."
William Maxwell, Time Will Darken It
(1948), p. 150.
Citizens of Lincoln,
Illinois, have continuously expressed interest in art and entertainment of
many kinds. Today the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival is an annual
celebration with numerous events, including those emphasizing visual and
The community also
supports the Lincoln Community Theater, Lincoln Writers Club, and the Logan County Arts
Association, which sponsors a series of classic films at the Lincoln Cinemas
(the Lincoln Theater). Of course, local schools and colleges also have
courses and extracurricular activities relating to theater, drawing,
painting, music, and writing.
Theaters in Lincoln, Illinois,
During the Route 66 Era
The Lincoln Theater is
the only theater of five in Lincoln, Illinois, to survive from the Route 66
era. During that period, the other downtown theaters were the Grand
and the Vogue. The two drive-in theaters were the Lincoln Drive In,
located on the eastern edge of Lincoln on Route 10, and the Bennis Auto-Vue,
located on the northeast side just off the Route 66 "beltline."
18.1: Lincoln Theater
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-01)
18.2: Lincoln Theater Marquee at Dusk
(Leigh Henson photo, 7-01)
18.3: Lincoln Theater and
Marquee in 1939
the Logan County centennial edition of the Lincoln Evening Courier,
Wednesday, October 18, 1939, p. 7.
18.4: Grand Theater in the 1930s
(formerly the Broadway Theater)
Paul Beaver, Logan County History, 1982, p. 27.
Interior of the Grand Theater Showing Balconies,
Luxurious Curtain, and Exotic Oriental Seascape Mural
(Photo provided by Leon Zeter from 1953 Lincolnite)
Summary of Theater History in Lincoln,
One of Lincoln's earliest entertainment establishments was Gillett's Hall,
"located on the upper floors of the building today  occupied by
Jacobs' Clothing Store on Broadway" (Courier, Centennial
Edition, Section Seven, August 26,
1953, p. 1). A photo of the Gillett Building appears on
of the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District.
According to the Courier
article, Gillett's Hall featured
traveling shows that played for a week at a time. Also, there were
"home talent and minstrel shows sponsored by Lincoln civic and fraternal
groups to entertain theatre-goers. . . . As if theatre entertainment
were not enough, roller skating took place in Gillett's Hall also as the
beaus and their gals spent many an evening whirling along the floor on
skates to the tempo of a fine waltz." Other sites of live
entertainment were the upper floors of the Lincoln House and the K.C. Hall
(Sanford in Logan County History, 1982, p. 27). Sanford quotes
a source that said parades often preceded live performances. In 1895, John Cossitt built the
Broadway Theater, later known as the Grand (18.4 above) (Courier,
Centennial Edition, Section Seven, August 26, 1953, p. 1).
18.6: Marquee of the Grand
from the 1955 Lincolnite
The most complete history
of movie theaters in Lincoln, Illinois, is "'Those Were the Days': Theaters
and Shows in Logan County" by Sanford Patterson and published in Paul
Beaver's Logan County History, 1982, pp. 26-28. He also
includes some movie history in his account of local theaters:
With the arrival of
moving pictures in Lincoln, about 1910, several theaters were built,
including the X-Ray, Family Theater, Star, Empire, Nickelodian, and
Airdrome, which was built by Steve Bennis just east of the present Arcade
Building. Over the years, Mr. Bennis emerged as Lincoln's most
successful player in the movie theater business, creating the Bennis
Enterprises. Eventually he owned the Grand and built the fabled
Lincoln Theater, the Vogue, and the Bennis Auto-Vue. Sanford says that
the Bennis Auto-Vue was constructed to compete with the Lincoln Drive-In
Theater, built on the east end on March, 1953.
The drive-in theaters
were an attempt to attract viewers that had been lost from regular theaters
because of television (History of Logan County 1982, p. 28).
I recall that the location of the Lincoln Drive-In was prone to standing
water after heavy rains. Thus, locals nicknamed this theater the
In view of its enduring
appeal, the Lincoln Theater stands as a living monument to the history of
entertainment in this city.
The advent of sound ("talking pictures")
prompted Mr. Bennis to built the Lincoln Theater, and he bought the land [Kickapoo
Street] in 1922 (Lincoln Evening Courier, section 6, Wednesday,
August 26, 1953, p. 12). Sanford Patterson quotes Earl Loeber in
describing how Mr. Bennis generated funds for the construction: "When
Steve decided to build the Lincoln Theater, he hired some high powered
salesmen to peddle the stock. They couldn't sell it so Steve went out
and sold it. That's how he got some of the money to build the theater"
(Beaver, History of Logan County, 1982, p. 27).
Wyneken writes that "construction on the Lincoln Theater started Feb. 12,
1922 [Lincoln's birthday] and the Theater opened Feb. 13, 1923, with the
first film being John Quincy Adams Sawyer [with Lon Chaney and Louise
Fazenda]." The Courier notes that "the late Judge L.B. Stringer
made the dedicatory address, dedicating the show house to the memory of
Abraham Lincoln. In his remarks of welcome to the first nighter crowd,
Mr. Bennis pointed out that the theatre had been built so that it would be
modern for 20 years in the future" (Lincoln Evening Courier, section
6, Wednesday, August 26, 1953, p. 12). According to the Courier,
the Lincoln Theater was the first theater in the nation for a city of
Lincoln's size to feature movies with sound.
The pride of the theatre was the great organ,
played by John LaMothe and Joseph Bennis. Every week, patrons at the
Lincoln were given the chance to play SCREENO and possibly win $50 to $500
in cash; that promotion continued into the fifties" ("What Did We Do for
Fun: Saturday Night in Logan County," Our Times. vol. 1, no.
2, winter, 1996, pp. 1-2).
Nancy Lawrence Gehlbach notes the curious fact
that even well into the era of sound movies, some of the movie theaters
featured live acts: "On Friday, January 3rd of 1936, the stage show
Lightnin', played at the Grand with 40 people in the cast and orchestra. . .
. The Lincoln Theatre celebrated its 13th anniversary in 1936 with a stage
show featuring Uncle Ezra and his Hoosier Hot-Shots from WLS and the
National Barn Dance."
The reference to Uncle Ezra and the Hoosier
Hot-Shots from WLS led me to try to find information about them in the
WLS Family Albums left to me by my Grandmother Ruth Henson.
(As a kid, I often visited Grandmother Ruth and Great Grandmother Parlee on
Fifth Street, Business Route 66,
when they listened to the WLS Barndance on Saturday nights.) I did
find separate pictures of Uncle Ezra and the Hot-Shots in the 1936 edition
of the Family Album. The 1938 Family Album, however,
contains a photo of both Uncle Ezra and the band, so I chose that photo to
include below (note the washboard).
18.7: WLS's Uncle Ezra and the Hot-Shots as They Would Have Appeared at the Lincoln Theater, 1936
Photo from the WLS
Family Album, 1938, p. 45.
18.8: Mr. Paul Million
Contestants in Saturday Festivities in the 1950s
Photos from the collection of Mr. Paul Million, given to Fred Blanford in
In the 1950s, Saturday Westerns and other adventure flicks
attracted a generation of young viewers. The Roy Rogers' Riders Club
was a promotional activity to fill the Lincoln Theatre. Use the following
link to view several photos of members of this non-exclusive club:
18.9: A Special Feature at the
Lincoln Theater for the 1953 Centennial
Ad for Lincoln Theater in the Lincoln Evening Courier, August 26, 1953
County Arts Association Feature Film for August, 2002
(photo by Stu Wyneken)
Rare Photos of the
Lincoln Theater Provided by Mr. Stu Wyneken
a letter to me dated August 1, 2002, Stu offers some useful background on
the photos below so I quote from his letter. As he indicates, the
Lincoln Theater was well designed and equipped for live productions as well
"The black-and-white backstage photos were taken when the theater was
twinned in 1985. The stage equipment in the photos is gone now, taken
out when house 3 and 4 were added in the mid 1990s. The dressing rooms
under the stage still exist, as does the original projection booth. As you
can see, the backstage area was quite deep and capable of holding and flying
a lot of scenery. The stage also included three sets of colored strip
lights, about 40 feet long, footlights across the front of the stage.
Probably not many people knew all that was behind the movie screen.
The large dome in the auditorium and the intricate scrollwork still survive,
yet hidden by the drop ceilings in house 1 and 2. The orchestra pit,
where house 3 is now, was accessed from under the stage."
18.11: Lincoln Theater Entrance and
Marquee in July, 2002
18.12: Ticket Booth and Lincoln Cinemas Manager Richard Casad
The front of the marquee
identifies Top Hat as the July feature presentation sponsored by the
Logan County Arts Association in cooperation with GKC Cinemas.
18.14: Original Scroll Work
The original scroll work
seen in photo 18.14 is elaborate and elegant. It still decorates the
curved hallway leading to the main auditorium.
18.15: Scenery of the Live Stage Production of Annie Get Your Gun,
Produced by the Logan County Arts Association in 1980
Photo 18.15 also shows
the 16-foot high tapestries that adorned the interior. They still
survive and are safe in storage. Stu took this photo when he was the
technical director for this production.
18.16: Projection Booth for
House 1 and 2
18.17: Projection Equipment for
The projection booth
shown in photo 18.16 formerly was the women's bathroom. Photo 18.17
shows the projection equipment for house 2. "Movies are placed on the
platters to the right and fed to the projector. No need for a
projectionist to stay with the films anymore. The original projector
booth is still there. It sits above the booths for house 1 and 2"
18.18: Dressing Room Below Stage
18.19: Back Stage Light Board
More than one dressing
room was located below the stage, and they are still there. Photo 18.19 shows original light board and door that accessed the roof over the
stage. House 4 is presently in this location.
18.20: Close-up of Light Board
18.21: Huge Stage Light Dimmers
board controlled the stage lighting.
Used to Lift Scenery
18.23: Counterweights Fly System
When properly rigged, the
counterweight system enabled a single worker to raise a 5,000-pound set.
I find little information about the Vogue Theater.
Sanford Patterson writes that "Lincoln's first drive-in theater was built by
the owners of the Vogue (the old Star) at the east end of Broadway on March
22, 1953" (Beaver, History of Logan County, 1982, p. 28). The Vogue
apparently was later acquired by Bennis Enterprises.
Vogue Marquee on "the Day
Lincoln Was Attacked"
18.24: City Hall
Tower, Mark Holland, and Vogue Theater Marquee on March 23, 1943
(Photo in Gleason, Lincoln:
A Pictorial History, p. 103)
reports that on this day Mark Holland buzzed Lincoln, Illinois, with a C-47
Dakota, no. 73., in order to impress his girlfriend, Marcella, who
later married him. The plane apparently flew "so low the exhaust of
the plane blew papers off some of the desks in the Logan County Courthouse"
Stan Stringer tells the story of how his father came to photograph this
event. Mark Holland, who had had worked for Stan's photographer father,
Charles M. Stringer, telegrammed Charles the night before. "Dad agreed
he'd have his Speed Grafix loaded and snap the pictures."
that "at the time, I was in the fourth grade at Monroe Elementary School.
My teacher was Miss Hazel Holland, and our classroom was on the second floor. Miss Holland was a cousin of Mark's. Needless to say, when
Mark made his first run the class was out of hand. We ran to the
windows for a grand view of the action. After Mark finished his runs
and the class had quieted down, Miss Holland asked if anyone knew who was
flying that airplane. While I had to fake it, we all had blank faces.
I'm not sure if she suspected it was Mark, but nothing more was said" (lincolndailyness.com
address below in Sources Cited).
Stan at email@example.com.
marquee indicates the film of the day was The Meanest Man in Town
starring Jack Benny. On that day it was Mark Holland who upstaged Mr.
Benny as the most entertaining man in town.
Vogue Theater Showing The
Blue Gardenia in 1953 During the Centennial Celebration
18.25: Vogue Theater Marquee in Background
(Photo from Paul Gleason,
Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 165)
In the Route 66 era, parades on
various occasions were special sources of entertainment. The above
photo shows the marching band of Lincoln Community High School in the 1953
centennial parade. Esteemed director Bill Smock accompanies his
charges at the left. Temperature was in the upper 90s.
18.26: Bennis Auto-Vue Ad
Lincoln Evening Courier, July 25, 1953, p. 6.
the post-modern world has contradictions, Lincoln was post-modern before
post-modern was cool.
A Late Show
Drive-In Theatre Ad in
Lincoln Evening Courier, July 25, 1953, p. 6
An Early Show
18.28: Ad in
Lincoln Evening Courier,
April 2, 1953, p. 10
Lincoln Community Chorus Mid-20th Century Musicals
A Line-Up of Local Talent
(Photo taken by Larry Shroyer and provided by
Fred Blanford writes,
"Did someone say Mikado? [The above photo is] Another L(arry) B. S(hroyer)
scan. It is a part of the cast along with the director. My thoughts--Wilbur
Layman second from left looking down at score, first female on the left I
strongly suspect to be Ann Doolen, the male in the front row with
glasses--Spencer Littleton?, young guy behind him looking at his neck--Bruce
Davis?, the female with the big smile and ponytail--Virginia Dunkelberg and
to the right from Virginia, Shirley Wilenzsky. Virginia & Shirley were two
of the trio Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo and Pitti-Sing--if memory serves.
Three possibilities for director are Bill Tagg, Jack Acton, or Don
Memory says Mrs. Acton and Virginia Dunkelberg each
taught music in the grade schools in my early years. Virginia was my first
piano teacher. Unfortunately, after a year or so of effort--she suggested I
move on up Fourth Street (she lived a couple of doors from Russell's Grocery)
a couple of blocks to a piano instructor with more patience--the nuns at St.
Pats. Sister Mary Lucillia (sp?) had no more success.
On this pic--Virginia and Shirley I know and think
Wilbur is correct. The rest are guesses.
Then as now, they allowed HS students to participate.
My older sis was in some of the productions. (Dr.) Gene Blaum participated
also--A while back I gave him a playbill from "Of Thee I Sing" which had
Saunders Devine in the lead roll--and Gene "as a child star." Productions
included HMS Pinafore, Die Fledermaus (sp?), maybe Trial By Jury. Although
there were other productions--memory fails at this point.
Yes, Tom Walsh did participate. I think Darrell Klink
was also a participant at that time.
I solicit any additions, corrections, modifications or
extensions as y'all see fit. The pleasant memories of these productions is
the reason that I had scanned the pic previously. Hope some of you have
18.30: 1952 Community
Chorus Production of Carmen
Photo from Lindstrom and Carruthers, Lincoln: the Namesake College,
pp. 166-67. Caption reads, "Community Chorus in 1952, under direction
of Bill Tagg, presented the opera "Carmen," with Judy Alvarado dancing a
cites two other 1952 productions: One was G.B. Shaw's Arms and the
Man, with Jean Goodrich and Don Dunkelberg. "Another fine play in
1952 by Harold Aleshire was The Late Christopher Bean, which featured
Dick Fairbairn, Bud Gluckman, Boyd Roche, Lee Jenkins, Don Meredith, Betty
Lou Kelly, Eileen Huffman, Greg Soliz, and Martha Tibbs."
From High Brow to Middle Brow
18.31: Hickey's Pool
Hall: Second Home to Many Lincolnites
(Photo provided by D.D. Welch, captions by Norm Schroeder)
Beaver, Paul J. History of Logan County
Illinois, 1982. The Logan County Heritage Foundation. Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing Company, 1982.
Gehlbach, Nancy Lawrence. "What Did We Do for Fun? Saturday Night in
Logan County." Our Times. vol. 1, no.2. winter, 1996. Same Redding,
Publisher. Prairie Years Press. 121 N. Kickapoo St., Lincoln, IL 62656
Gleason, Paul E. Lincoln,
Illinois: A Pictorial History.
St. Louis, MO: G. Bradley Publishing, 1998. Material from Mr. Gleason's books is copyrighted with all rights
Gleason's material used in this Web site is with permission from the G. Bradley Publishing Company, 461 Des
Peres Road, St. Louis, MO 63131. Call 1-800-966-5120 to inquire about purchasing Lincoln,
Illinois: A Pictorial History (1998) (200 pages of rare photos and text) or Logan County Pictorial History
(2000) (also 200 pages of rare photos and text). Visit
Henson, Leigh. Mr. Paul Million and the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers'
Lincoln Community Theater Web site:
Lincoln, Illinois, centennial edition of the
Lincoln Evening Courier, section 7, August 26, 1953.
Lindstrom, Andrew, and Olive Carruthers. Lincoln: The
Namesake College (the Centennial History of Lincoln College, 1865-1965. Lincoln, Illinois,
no publisher, 1965.
Logan County Arts Association Web site:
Logan County centennial edition of the Lincoln Evening Courier,
Wednesday, October 18, 1939.
WLS Family Album,
1944. Chicago, IL: The Prairie Farmer, 1944.
Stringer, Stan. "Stan Stringer Tells the Story of Mark Holland's Buzzing of
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln,
"The Past Is But the