Home to the world-famous Song of the Mountains
The Lincoln Theatre: Community Hub and Art-deco Masterpiece
Located in the heart of Marion’s vibrant downtown district, The Lincoln Theatre is a gorgeously restored theatre in the Mayan Revival style, offering year-round entertainment and live music.
Originally constructed in 1929 as Southwest Virginia’s premiere “movie palace,” the Lincoln has long been a community hub. Residents lined up around the block for film premieres like Gone With the Wind and Jaws.
Now, the theatre is perhaps most famous as the home of Song of the Mountains, an award-winning public television series showcasing the music and culture of the Southern Appalachians. The first Saturday of each month, the Song of the Mountains is taped live in downtown Marion, airing on PBS stations across the country.
Experience a show at The Lincoln
In addition to the flagship Song of the Mountains, The Lincoln Theatre offers live music throughout the year, from casual open mic nights to big name bluegrass and country stars.
When you attend a show at the Lincoln, you enter from Main Street, through the charming concessions stand and gift shop, Lola’s at the Lincoln (named in honor of the local artist Lola Poston who created the epic murals for the theatre’s walls). Free parking is available on Main Street and at the Marion Municipal Parking Garage.
Entering the main theatre is a step back in time, with red velvet seats, surrounded by elaborate bas relief glyphs adorning the walls and proscenium, meant to evoke the feeling of walking into an ancient Mayan temple. Six large murals depict scenes in American and local history.
The Lincoln started its life as a movie house, and new in 2021, the theatre is offering a series of classic film festivals, from Charlie Chaplin to Alfred Hitchcock. Additional family-friendly films are also planned.
The History of The Lincoln Theatre
After much anticipation, The Lincoln Theatre officially opened on July 1, 1929, with Close Harmony starring Buddy Rogers and Nancy Carroll. The first evening was such a success that droves of patrons were turned away at the door as the theatre quickly reached capacity. Admission in those days was $0.50 for adults and $0.25 for children. As residents of the area entered, many of them had never even seen motion pictures of any kind, let alone a feature film. Before each presentation, current newsreels gave patrons their very first look at the world outside their rural home in the mountains of Virginia. Just two months after the theatre’s opening night, the Black Tuesday stock market crash occurred, marking the beginning of a severe economic downturn for the country. But The Lincoln continued to survive and thrive amidst The Great Depression and through World War II.
In the late 1980s, a group of local citizens, intent on restoring the theatre, created The Lincoln Theatre, Inc.. After three decades of neglect and abandonment, and countless hours of hard work from local supporters, The Lincoln Theatre reopened to the public on May 15, 2004, with a performance by the Grammy-award winning Riders in the Sky. Soon thereafter, the first Song of the Mountains concerts were produced by the Appalachian Music Heritage Foundation, a series that would become nationally known and received the designation of the state television program of Virginia.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Virginia Historic Landmark.