Embassy Theatre To Light Restored Marquee
LEWISTOWN, PA — The continuing restoration of Lewistown’s historic Embassy Theatre will reach an important milestone on October 16, 2003 when the restored Marquee of a Thousand Lights will be illuminated. The Friends of the Embassy Theatre, Inc. the non-profit group that owns the theatre, will hold a “grand illumination party” in front of the theatre on Monument Square from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm that evening.
State Senator Jake Corman is scheduled to throw the switch at approximately 7:30. The Lewistown Community Band will provide music for the event. Artwork produced by local school students will be displayed.
Donations for the restoration project will be accepted during the evening. One pound boxes of chocolates, donated by Asher’s Chocolates of Lewistown, will be available for a $10 donation. Inside the box will be a souvenir postcard of the theatre and an original Embassy Theatre ticket. Individual postcards will be available for smaller donations.
One year ago, Friends of the Embassy celebrated the 75th anniversary of the movie theatre’s opening. At the celebration, Senator Corman presented the organization with a $40,000 Community Revitalization grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The funds were used to construct a replica of the theatre’s original marquee.
Restoration of the marquee actually began 12 years ago, when Friends of the Embassy purchased the shuttered Theatre. Closed for a decade, it had fallen into disrepair. The bright marquee that once graced the theatre was in very poor shape, and was removed for safety reasons. The marquee panels were measured, documented, and photographed. At the time, it was determined that the original marquee was so badly deteriorated that it was unsalvageable.
Friends of the Embassy have sought to make the restoration of the theatre a community-based effort. Several local businesses and individuals were involved in constructing the marquee.
According to Paul Fagley, spokesman for the organization, “One advantage of doing a project like this locally is that people involved see it as a community project which will directly benefit themselves and their families. Additionally, the Friends of the Embassy can directly work with the companies involved during all aspects of the construction.”
Before actual work could begin, the organization pursued two zoning variances with the Borough of Lewistown. The first allowed Friends of the Embassy to operate the marquee in the borough’s historic patterns, as there is a prohibition against flashing and animated signs. The second allowed the organization to use letter boards to promote community service and event messages on the marquee. The Borough of Lewistown has shown support for the theatre’s restoration, and the variances were granted.
The marquee’s panels were built by Metlmex Corp. of Lewistown. Construction began in May. This was an unusual project for Metlmex employees as much of their work involves production of custom items for industry and restaurants, items which the public rarely sees.
Max Corkins Jr., owner of Corkins Automotive Restorations, of Lewistown, painted the panels. He is nationally known for his restored antique cars, and is a collector of Studebaker automobile. The new marquee was painted with high quality automotive paint, complete with a clear coat. The colors were carefully chosen to match the original paint colors, and the decoration patterns were faithfully reproduced. Robert P. Lepley, a local Electrical Contractor, assisted with the wiring and electrical systems of the marquee.
Metlmex installed the marquee last month. Hanging the main front panel (over 32 feet long) was a particular challenge. Noerr’s Garage donated the use of a flatbed trailer and driver to deliver the panel. Crider-Mitchell Construction donated the use of a crane to hang it.
Downtown Lewistown, Inc., a local group directing the revitalization effort in downtown Lewistown, has supported the restoration of the Embassy Theatre since the organizations inception in the late 1990s. In the summer of 2001, DLI supported the Embassy through a $2,500 matching Design Challenge Grant providing the catalyst for a comprehensive facade cleaning, repair and masonry re-pointing effort coupled with the complete restoration of the wooden windows along the front. Individuals and organizations supported this project with donations leveraging significant re-investment in the landmark building. The Executive Director of Downtown Lewistown, Inc., Jim Zubler, is an advisor to the Embassy Friends group.
DATE: October 7, 2003
TO: Area News Media
FROM: Paul Fagley
SUBJECT: MARQUEE OF A THOUSAND LIGHTS TO BE ILLUMINATED