Former President Bill Clinton Visits the Lincoln Theatre

Prepared by Suzan Bradford, General Manager


On March 9, former President Bill Clinton–accompanied by former Mayor Michael B. Coleman–visited the King-Lincoln District, including a special tour of the Lincoln Theatre.

They began with a stop at Columbus' Cultural Wall, discussing the work being done in the King-Lincoln District, and graciously greeting the public and posing for pictures.

I greeted them as they reached the Lincoln Theatre, and gave them a quick overview of our Walk of Fame inductees. President Clinton expressed admiration for all, especially Rashaan Roland Kirk, Wil Haygood, and Nancy Wilson, and had a story about each one. As we entered the Lincoln's board room, he was impressed with the theatre's original film projector that had been restored and put on display in that room. When I ran down the list of jazz greats who had played the Lincoln, Clinton told us he had played with James Brown once, and laughingly said, "I didn't do the slips."

He recognized the Lincoln's rare Egyptian Revival-style motif, and was intrigued with the theatre's history. Mr. Coleman and I explained the mission and vision for the Lincoln, and the successes we have enjoyed thus far, illustrating our words with a variety of historic and current photos.

When we moved to the second-floor ballroom, Mr. Clinton said he loved our building. He also toured the stage, backstage, and even posed for photos in the lobby. He was very impressed with the entire space and how we use and care for it. Upon request, he even signed a door for us. We expressed our thanks as he left, and he got into his car with cheers of well wishes.

I believe the Lincoln earned a new page in her history that day, as Bill Clinton is the first US president to grace her halls. Not to mention, Clinton's grand tour was conducted by Columbus' first African-American mayor and the Lincoln's first African-American female general manager. What an amazing (and surreal) day for the Lincoln! I am much honored to have been a part of it.