The Lincoln Theatre

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. Since re-opening in 2004, the Lincoln has offered 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. This award-winning public television series showcases 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. You’ll find casual open mic nights, big name bluegrass and country stars and more. 

The Church Sisters performing on stage at The Lincoln Theatre in Smyth County VA for Song of the Mountains

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. Be sure to look for the photo of Lola Poston in the gift shop. Poston was the local artist who created the epic murals for the theatre’s walls. Free parking is available on Main Street and at the Marion Municipal Parking Garage. 

When you enter the main theatre, you take a step back in time. The auditorium features red velvet seats, surrounded by elaborate bas-relief glyphs adorning the walls and proscenium. The ornate decorations evoke the feeling of walking into an ancient Mayan temple. In addition, six large murals depict scenes in American and local history. 

The Lincoln started its life as a movie house, and has embraced those roots by beginning to screen films again. The theatre recently added a state-of-the-art digital projector and sound system!

The History of The Lincoln Theatre

The Lincoln Theatre in Smyth county VA Marquee

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. 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. The inaugural performance featured 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.

Hand painted murals at the Lincoln Theatre
Murals at The Lincoln Theatre, hand-painted by local artist Lola Poston

Choose Your Smyth County Adventure!

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