Gem Theatre

Gem Theatre

The Gem Theatre is an abandoned theater on 8th Street in downtown Cairo, Illinois.

The Gem Theatre opened in 1910 but was destroyed in a fire in 1929. 7 It was announced shortly after on February 18 that a new 1,400 seat venue would be constructed within the shell of the original facility. 3 The new facility, estimated to cost $100,000, opened in 1930 at the cost of $200,000. 1

A fire that began in the furnace room destroyed the Gem Theatre on February 27, 1934. 1 4 The facility reopened in 1936. 7 In early 1941, a fire caused damaged the theater once again which caused the facility to be closed until April 3.

Later in the decade, the Gem was renamed the Lincoln Theater which remained in operation until 1978. 7 Afterward, a portion of the building was reused as Gem Video, a video rental store.

The deteriorated building was donated to the city in 1995 with the goal of rehabilitating the structure for civic and school use, 7 and the marquee was restored and the lobby structurally stabilized. In late-August 2000, the state received $231,900 in funds from the federal Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. 6 The state also issued $20,000 in Illinois FIRST funding for a new stage in June 2001; 5 the city contributed $70,256 towards the project.

Further Reading


  1. “Gem Theatre in Cairo Destroyed.” Sikeston Standard 2 Mar. 1934: 1. Print.
  2. “Personals.” Daily Independent [Murphysboro] 4 Apr. 1941: 5. Print.
  3. “New $100,000 Theatre to be Put Up in Cairo.” Daily Free Press [Carbondale] 18 Feb. 1929: 6. Print.
  4. “Fire Destroys Cairo Theater.” Jacksonville Daily Journal 28 Feb. 1934: 6. Print.
  5. “$534,499 in Illinois FIRST Projects for Southern Illinois.” Illinois Government News Network 8 Jun. 2001. Web.
  6. Rosenbery, Pete. “$231,900 in funds earmarked for Gem Theater.” Southern Illinoisan [Carbondale] 29 Aug. 2000: 3A. Print.
  7. Schiecke, Konrad. “Gem.” Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois, 1883-1960. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. 58-59. Print.

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