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