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The Lincoln Theater, built by the Grand Order of Odd Fellows, an African American fraternal organization, was a center of Columbus black culture in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Carl Anderson, the builder, was head of an African American construction company in Dayton, and it was managed by the prominent African American entrepreneur Al Jackson. The theater is said to be where the jazz classic “The Jersey Bounce” was written.  It was common for lodge buildings in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to include commercial space; that is why the Lincoln Theater has four commercial storefronts flanking its main entrance. The 6,000-square-foot Ogden Ballroom, later called the Lincoln Club, had a separate entrance.

The theater’s exterior design is very spare, with a stripped-down, unornamented look. Smooth stone trim delineates the entrance and storefronts. The upper brick walls have almost no detailing or ornamentation; they rise to parapets, but have no cornices. The windows are simple steel sash with plain stone sills. Inside the 750-seat theater, columns and a decorative plaster cornice were used to create the feeling of an Egyptian palace. A large space to the rear of the stage facilitated the movement of scenery and backdrops.  Steps have been taken to preserve the theater in recent years. The old roof was replaced and the brick exterior restored. The four street-level shop spaces were rehabilitated, and the building has 6,000 square feet of office space on the third floor.

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