THE ILLUMINATED art deco invitation has stood on the square for over seven decades. Endless generations of families in Lincoln County have walked under the same lights; the lights have been featured in movies and books. While the marquee’s announcements have changed as much as the movies that have played there, some things remain the same.
Inside The Lincoln Theatre, the lights dim as we settle into our seats with a bucket of fresh, buttered popcorn and our favorite soda. It pops with excitement, just like our heart rates as the studio name appears on the big screen. The outside world is silenced as the theatre’s heavy double doors swoosh shut. For the next couple of hours, we are transported to other galaxies, romanced, scared to death, and return to our childhood, all for the cost of admission and snacks. We sit comfortably shoulder- to-shoulder with our neighbors, friends, and classmates.
Through the years, the films and costs have varied, but the value is timeless.
Who recalls first kisses or hiding your face in your date’s chest? What about the tears we try to hide when the on-screen breakup breaks our hearts, too? Or which songs are you still humming from your favorite Disney movie?
In the 60s, for an average ticket price of 69 cents, we hoped for the reunion of the divorced parents in “The Parent Trap,” loved Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” checked into The Bates Motel in “Psycho,” and longed for civilization again in the “Planet of the Apes.”
The 70s invited us to fall for “Love Story,” introduced us to Michael Myers in the first “Halloween” movie, kept us on the edge of our seats with “The Godfather,” and let us switch places in “Freaky Friday,” each for about $1.55 per ticket.
While the 80s saw tickets increase to $4, we got our money’s worth when Jack Nicholson scared us to death in “The Shining,” “E.T.” thrilled us with a visit from other galaxies, and Johnny Castle wouldn’t let anyone put Baby in a corner in “Dirty Dancing.” Disney took us under the sea in “The Little Mermaid.”
The multi-plex theatres didn’t hold the charm of watching the movies of the 90s in the historical Lincoln. We were willing to watch, more than once, the films that thrilled us. We gladly handed over the $5 ticket price for another sail on “Titanic,” another look into Forest Gump’s box of chocolates, we guessed who could be the high school villain in “Scream,” and a visit with Woody and Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story.”
But on September 27, 1952, “Air Cadet” kicked off the opening of The Lincoln under the ownership of Cresent Theatres. It was a single-screen venue until a second screen was added upstairs on the balcony, and a second projector booth was installed downstairs.
Craig and Christy Freehauf have owned the theatre since 1992 and continue to offer us escape and entertainment for the cost of admission. At times, it’s even free! In the month of November, the Lincoln showed three free movies. On November 11, free showings of “Elvis” (2022) began. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” (1989) was free on November 18. And “A Christmas Story” (1983) opened with a free showing on November 25. What an excellent opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime.
Today’s movies are shown with Barco digital projectors in digital surround and Real D 3D, powered by solar panels that were added to the roof in 2016.
Try a Christmas favorite, a bestselling bookturned- movie, or the latest animated film this holiday season. Yes, we can stay home in our jammies with Netflix and microwave popcorn, but we miss the feeling of something bigger. A bigger screen, a bigger experience, a bigger popcorn bowl, and a bigger sound—even our memories are technicolor. GN