1031/33 State Street :: The Lincoln Building

The Lincoln Building, constructed around 1905 by Jacob Roth, has housed a number of businesses over the years. The upper floor, however has almost always been a dance hall/dance studio and remains so today as Dafmark Dance Theater.

The building on the northeast corner of 11th and State was built around 1905 by local entrepreneur, Jacob Roth. This building was constructed around the same time as a number of other buildings in this section of downtown Erie by the same man including: the Roth building (only ever described as being on the North side of State St between 11th and 12th), the Cadillac building (1117-1119 State), and the Union building (unknown location).

Jacob Roth was born in Germany in 1872 and came to Erie with his parents when he was 8 years old. He attended public schools, and at the age of 12 began selling newspapers to help support his family. According to a profile printed in the July 14th, 1915 issue of the Erie Times News, “He took up a newspaper station at the depot and besides selling on the platform, he delivered papers to all parts of the city. In the sale of papers, his business ability became noticeable, for he soon earned the sum of $15 and $18 weekly.”

From the July 14, 1915 Erie Times News

He saved the money that he did not give to his family, and established himself in the bicycle business. Eventually, he became one of the first owners of an automobile in Erie and the rest, as they say, is history.

Roth purchased the building at 1117-1119 State street and named it the “Cadillac Building,” (which is now the parking lot for the credit union on the corner of 12th and State). This was the headquarters of the car dealership for a number of years before eventually moving to East 8th Street.

According to his death notice (April 2, 1949) “Mr. Roth became one of the largest real estate operators in Erie, at one time owning Waldameer Park. As a partner, he owned an interest in the Erie franchise of the Ohio and Pennsylvania baseball leagues.” Roth Cadillac is still in business at 5711 Peach Street (and the dealership is the current steward of a classic 1912 Cadillac that was sold at the original Roth Cadillac at 1117-1119 State Street, which has been restored and is on display at the dealership).

This photo from 1924 shows the the 112th regiment military band marching past the Lincoln Building at 11th and State. At this time, the first floor storefront was occupied by Conklin’s Clothing Store (Source: Erie History and Memorabilia, the original source of the photo was not cited).

The third floor of the Lincoln building has always held some kind of dance or assembly hall, since its construction. The grand staircase and performance space on the 3rd floor lends itself to such activities (including Miss Luce’s Dance Academy from the early 1930s until the 1960s, as well as Mark Moffett’s Lincoln Theater – a live theater group in the 1980s). The building suffered a fire in 1909, shortly after it’s construction causing approximately $5000 in damage (about $160,000 today). The lower floors of the building have contained MANY businesses over the years, including the Columbia Phonograph company, a wallpaper company, The Business Men’s Exchange, Dr. Koehler’s dental offices, Producer’s Oil and Gas, Froess Brother’s Pianos, The Gallaher Tailoring Company, a pool hall, and multiple restaurants and bars (to name a few).

Dafmark Dance Theater has occupied the 3rd floor of the Lincoln building since it’s creation in 1990. This photo shows the historic grand staircase leading up to the open performance studio on the 3rd floor.

Since 1990, Dafmark Dance Theater has occupied the third floor studio space for it’s performances and lessons. The space still holds on to a number of historic architectural elements including this grand staircase with intricate woodwork, the wood floors of the performance space, tall windows, fire escapes, and a narrow back staircase in dressing areas. The first floor currently houses a “prohibition era” themed speakeasy, Room 33 (a nod to the address of the building), which seems a fitting tenant for the historic building.

Published by olderieonfoot

I run the Instagram @olderieonfoot about the beautiful old places in my town, Erie PA

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