Photo from the Marlene Steele collection
245 E Ave|
Limon CO 80882
|Record #1788 |
Capacity: 204 seats|
Current Organ: none
| Also Known As: Cactus|
Information for this tour was contributed by Marlene Steele.
The Cactus Theatre was originally constructed by Egon W. G. Wieselmann, in 1937. Mr. Wieselmann, stated he was bent on filling the need for a larger, finer theatre building in Limon. The cost of the building on the land just north of the Masonic building on the west side of the street was estimated to be $10,000.00. Construction began in November of 1937. I have been told by old timers around the area, that the foundation was dug using a team of mules and some sort of farm implement. Mr. Wieselmann build the theatre backwards, (you walk into the auditorium facing the audience with the screen to your back), in order to save $300.00 in excavation costs, by following the natural slope of the land. To my knowledge, we are one of maybe three original old theatre built this way and still in operation.
The theatre had its grand opening at 7:30 on June 16, 1938, showing the movie There's Always a Woman starring Joan Blondell, Melvyn Douglas, Mary Astor, and Frances Drake. Modern Screen Magazine said of the movie, “It's The Thin Man and The Awful Truth woven into one. Five hundred souvenirs were given out to the First-Nighters. The new theatre featured modern beauty of design through out. 327 Spring Cushioned Seats, Summer and Winter Air-Conditioning, Ultramodern Simplex-RCA Sound and Projection Equipment (which is still in use), a spacious lobby and restrooms.
Through out its history, the theatre has been host to many community events in addition to providing movie entertainment. June 27-28-29, 1938, Star In My Kitchen, the talking motion picture, provided a cooking school, which was a thrilling treat for every woman. And it was free.
In March of 1939, 750 farmers saw a free conservation show at the Cactus. The film was providing educational messages on soil conservation. The film was provided by the government and B.W. McGinnis of the regional office of the S.C.C. gave interesting and timely lectures on the drive to combat erosion in various forms.
The theatre hosted a New Years party on December 31, 1939, with novelties, balloons and noise-makers. It was to become an annual tradition for many years. Admission at that time was 30 cents.
In May of 1941, the Cactus announced a new program policy, Tuesdays of each week admissions were to be lowered to 10 cents for children and 20 cents for adults all tax included. The first picture to be shown on Tuesday was Too Many Girls.
The theatre even had “A Midnite Show” for “Limon Day, Saturday at 11:pm". It was full of spice and fun. Cesar Romero and Carole Landis starred in Dance Hall and from the San Francisco Fair came Sally Randy’s Nude Ranch "(Girls as you like to see them)". (Children admitted only with their parents)
September 25, 1941, Patrons will view Bond Sale Movie Premiere, Suicide Squadron. As an added attraction, The Battle of Midway, official U.S. Navy Technicolor pictures of that famous battle will be shown. These films had just been released. The only was to get tickets was to purchase $50 bonds to help the war effort.
In February 1943, the Cactus hosted a “junk” show, for the purpose of collecting scrap copper and brass vitally needed for the war effort. There was no admission price, but to attend the show it was necessary to present two pounds of some article made of copper, bronze or brass. Over 300 persons attended the showing mostly school children. The movie was Wyoming starring Wallace Berry.
In June of 1945, Mr. Wielselmann sold the Cactus Theatre to John L. Steele. To celebrate this big day, the theatre had arranged for radio’s original singing cowboy, Jack Norman, and Dick Phillips, National Champion fiddle player, to appear in person Friday afternoon and evening.
The Cactus theatre brought an unusual picture to the screen June 26, 27, 28 of 1945. To the Shores of Iwo Jima. Included in this film was the taking of Mt. Suribachi and the flag-raising which had become the theme of the Seven War Loan Drive. The picture was taken by official U.S. Marine photographers and it served to bring the war home to people with a wallop, the likes of which were never experience before.
On September 30, 1949, the Cactus Theatre is sold to two Denver men in quick deal completed over the weekend. Sam Feinstein and Charles McCarthy purchased the Cactus from Johnny Steele who took over the theatre from his father, John Steele in 1947. They plan vast improvements and redecorating including a new marquee.
A new screen is installed at the Lincoln on February 23, 1961. It is called a Super-Optical Seamless and is made of seamless vinyl plastic. To give new clarity and depth to the picture the screen is covered with two coats of pearl white mother-of-pearl. (Still in use today.) It was only the third such screen to be installed in Colorado. New seating and carpet is installed in October 1965. Seating capacity will be cut to 277 seats to offer more leg room.
The 1990 tornado did some damage to the theatre, but was structurally sound. In fact the engineers who inspected the building, told us, they had never seen a building built as well as the theatre building. The marquee was destroyed and had to be replaced. The theatre was the first business to reopen for business. In three weeks by work day and night, we managed to put things back together and we were once again providing a place for people to come and “get away from it all” for a period of time.
No other business in Limon has been in continual operation in the same location for over 65 years. No other business has had the impact on lives as the Lincoln Theatre has.
The theatre was added to the Colorado Historical Society Register on March 10, 2004.
Photos remain the property of the Member and may not be reproduced without the written consent of the Member.
November 2005 photos from the Adam Martin collection.
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Last featured 1/17/2005. Last edited 9/13/2008.