…the dazzle of the running lights…
the brilliance of the neon…
the sheer motion of the illumination draws you into the whirlwind of excitement!
It’s flashy! Akin to the lights of Broadway, or Vegas! Giving us a sensation that makes our breath quicken and our heart rate flutter at the mere sight.
This, ladies and gents, is the most visible change you will see at the Times! The restoration of our marquee; the “most anticipated” project in bringing our little slice of history back to life! We can’t wait!
The revitalization projects so far have really been out of sight to the public. We have people wondering what’s really been going on in there! The marquee changes will bring it all to the forefront for everyone to see and enjoy!
The marquee is really the face of the theater, both literally and figuratively.
Now, how did marquees come to be? There were a couple of revolutionary happenings going on in the time period of the largest appearance of the marquee; the hey-day of cinema and the automobile! That’s right, the horseless carriage, people! In the 1920s and 30s, the time of mass-produced cars was upon us…beep, beep! So, coming down the streets at a high rate of speed (maybe up to 20mph), these cinemas and theaters needed a way to catch the attention of the swiftly moving potentialpatrons. A flat sign wouldn’t do! No! The car would practicallybe past it before being able to see what the sign said if it were a regular old store front type display. So, in general, the sign would need to protrude or hang out from the building to actually be seen. And maybe we make it double sided so cars approaching from both directions could easily see it, yes!!Now, we are getting there!
Just think of it. The busy cityscapes and building fronts were going to take on a whole new life with awnings and signs hanging out over the sidewalks. And what can be done so our venue really grabs them by the shirt collar and brings them to our front door? Yes!! Action, movement! Lights! Color! It was an exciting time of glitz and glamour. It was this type of appearance that prompted theater historian, Ben M. Hall, to call them "electric tiaras."
Business folks couldn’t make a new sign every time a show or act changed…so, yes…the interchangeable letters for the reader boards were born soon after. Now doubt these beacons of light lit up many town and city thoroughfares bringing in the curious and the learned alike.
Fast forward to the 1970s and 80s when malls and megaplex theaters came to be. What once was the hub of smalltown America, the Main Street business areas, were disappearing quickly. It has been a long-sorted tale for so many local businesses of yesteryear. Highway systems and the sprawl removed the car traffic from the town squares and inner cities in many cases.
After decades of practical plight for such streets and businesses, there has been a resurgence taking place over the last 20 years or so. People are starting to understand the importance of these older historic buildings that can not be replaced and many generations have a nostalgic love of the past that include them. The marquees are part of that nostalgia that we plan to resurrect.
As we reach out to gather support for the marquee here at the Times, perhaps you will recall what a wonderous time in history it represents and what a magical time may still remain ahead for future generations who will be drawn in by this guiding set of lights here on our own Main Street.