The lights are on at the historic Lincoln Theatre, the former first-run movie palace at 1215 U St. NW. In a ceremony and block party attended by about 1,000 people last week, Lincoln Theatre Foundation Chairman Delano E. Lewis pushed a button to light up the 67-year-old theater's new marquee, a symbolic first step toward a $4 million restoration of the building. Fran Cohen, foundation president and wife of Shaw developer Jeffrey Cohen, said she expects the theater that closed five years ago to reopen by the end of 1990. During its heyday, the theater was home to first-run movies as well as big band performances in the ballroom behind it. The restored building is expected to be used for live theater as well as movies. Effi Barry, wife of Mayor Marion Barry, was among several speakers who hailed the restoration of the theater. She thanked the Cohens for "holding on to a dream, a dream for all of us." Entertainers for the evening event represented the 1940s and the '80s. Ethelle "Bubbling Brown Sugar" Carnegie, who appeared 50 years ago at the Casbah nightclub down the block from the Lincoln, sang, as did Karen Wiggs and Robbyn Helzner, who perform in Washington today. Besides the new lights of the Lincoln, the yellow lights of the theater's next door neighbor, Ben's Chili Bowl, were also turned on last week. Virginia Ali, who with her husband, Ben, owns the restaurant that they opened about 1950, said she welcomes the bright lights of the Lincoln. Most buildings along the block are vacant, and at night only the Chili Bowl is open for business. "This tells everyone we are alive and well up here on U Street," she said. "It has been a very long time since anyone thought we had anything to celebrate here."