Gem Theatre

The Gem Theatre, now abandoned, is located on 8th Street in the downtown area of Cairo, Illinois.

The Gem Theatre, which opened in 1910 in Cairo, Illinois, was devastated by a fire in 1929. 7 Shortly after, on February 18, plans were announced to construct a new 1,400-seat venue within the remains of the original structure. 3 This new facility, initially estimated to cost $100,000, eventually opened in 1930 with a final cost of $200,000. 1

However, tragedy struck again on February 27, 1934, when a fire originating in the furnace room destroyed the Gem Theatre. 1 4 The theatre was rebuilt and reopened in 1936. 7 In early 1941, another fire caused significant damage, leading to a temporary closure until April 3 of that year. 3

In the later part of the decade, the Gem was rebranded as the Lincoln Theater, which continued operations until 1978. 7 Subsequently, part of the building was repurposed as Gem Video, a video rental store.

In 1995, the deteriorating structure was donated to the city with the intention of refurbishing it for community and educational use. 7 Efforts were made to restore the marquee and structurally stabilize the lobby. 6 In late August 2000, the project received $231,900 from the federal Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. Additionally, in June 2001, the state provided $20,000 in Illinois FIRST funding for a new stage, complemented by a $70,256 contribution from the city towards the rehabilitation project. 5



  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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Cairo could have been a better place with gem its lot’s of places that are closed down in Cairo for weird reasons. They closed Wonder Market down which was the only grocery store in Cairo. Its lots of things closed that could have made Cairo AMAZING which is horrible cause Cairo could have been a better place. And lets not forget about KFC they also closed it down for the DUMMEST reason and the government EVEN CLOSED DOWN SCHOOLS! Who does that it takes away the education away from kids that need to learn for when they get older to be smart. Right now in 2022 there are only 3 schools open one is like a day care for kids called head-start its only for kids 3 and under the next one is Cairo Elementary. The last school is Cairo Junior High School. Lets make Cairo a better place and build new things and open better things and fix them up because Cairo can be better than this there are no Gas-Station’s in Cairo and you have to go to the outside of Cairo to be able to get gas which is horrible hopefully someone sees this and can be able to fix this the roads. The roads are horrible they need more houses and people leave trash and cars in there yard the park needs to be way better basketball hops swings are broken almost everyday and no one does nothing about it. Lets make Cairo better. how its so many stray dogs that need homes and all the trash in Cairo and they need WAY more baby food here in Cairo. Its so many Guns that people die from Its Crack heads that go up to people car and asked for money just to get a beer which helps nothing and is not good for your heath they need Nursing home for all the people who need help theirs so many homeless people and people in need because the government Takes away people homes we need doctors and very much more in Cairo we need more schools to be open and very much more thanks for reading this and this letter was written by 11-year old Erin Whitaker and 10-year old Brielle woods thanks for reading this and have a nice day.

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