The Lincoln Theater, a civil rights landmark in Old South Baton Rouge, has been sold to the Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame, which plans to renovate it and turn it into a historical center and a tourist attraction. The Hall of Fame paid $345,000 for the building, money that it got from the state as part of the capital outlay program. Brenda Perry of the Hall of Fame says the next step will be to raise $100,000 to renovate the building. The fundraising campaign will start next month. Perry says the plans are to turn the theater into an arts and entertainment venue and a historical center. The Hall of Fame, founded in 1988 to honor black Louisiana natives or residents, has been looking for a permanent site for several years. Some of the members of the Hall of Fame are jazz legend Louis Armstrong, former national NAACP president Rupert Richardson and football great Doug Williams.
The Foundation for a Historical Louisiana had been working to save the building, which was a meeting place for planning the 1953 bus boycotts and the only theater black people were allowed to go to during segregation. Chris Pike, an agent with NAI/Latter & Blum who brokered the sale, says the foundation paid for an appraisal. “So many people made this deal happen,” he says. The 5,300-square-foot building was renovated in 2001, but has been vacant for the past five years, Pike says.—Timothy Boone