Wanted: Theater Marquee

posted by Marx on February 26, 2004 at 8:07 am

Upstage Restaurant and theater, located in the historic seaport of Port Townsend, WA, seeks info or sources regarding theater marquees. Looking for possible ‘historical’ examples, photos, and sources of theater facades and marquees, especially circa 1860 to 1930. Contact Mark at 360-385-2216 or .

Comments (2)

JimRankin on February 27, 2004 at 8:56 am

Your inquiry is answered by the ANNUAL of 1980 of the Theatre Historical Soc. of America: “MARQUEES: A Pictorial History”. It is a 30-page, 8-1/2x11 booklet of vintage b&w photos of different types of marquees on theatres across the land. You can order it for $12.50 plus postage from the Society at http://www.HistoricTheatres.org by clicking on the link ANNUAL on the sidebar on the first page, and then paging down to the list of them.

There are many other sources of information on the subject available from them by inquiring of the Executive Director listed on their first page at the bottom. You can also find vintage photos and articles about them in the magazine “Signs of the Times” which is at many libraries, and is still in operation, and they may have their own internal index, if you inquire of them at their Cincinnati offices.

The THSA also has many thousands of photos of theatres with marquees, as well as interior views, and you would do well to give them an exploratory call, or inquire via E-mail at the address/phone numbers on their first page.

Some of the old sign companies, such as Everbrite here in the Milwaukee area, still retain drawings/photos of the elaborate designs (and modern versions) of marquees they have done over the years. They had in 1990 the 1929 drawing of the 10-story-high Vertical Sign and of the Marquee they did for the RIVERSIDE Theatre here, as an example. The state supreme court case involving their marquee is a fascinating read, if I do say so myself.

You might also like the ongoing discussions of marquees in modern terms as found at the site: http://www.bigscreenbiz.com under their FORUM “Cinema Design” where there is currently a discussion of someone wanting to reproduce a marquee. Use the SEARCH function with the term ‘marquee’ there and you will find a number of threads about them over the years.

Best Wishes, Jim Rankin () Member of THSA since 1976. Former Archivist/Historian to our PABST theater.

paulaclark on June 22, 2004 at 7:13 am

We have been working on restoring the marquee of the Port Theatre for some time now. Hit a dead end a couple years back, but have it about halfway restored at this point. The owner of Savage Neon in Baltimore, Maryland helped us with the neon glass restoration. Which, actually, proved to be climbing up on the marquee and measuring, searching out what was left of the signage, and remaking signs, because neon, for the most part, is unrepairable (the glass is). Haley was fascinated by our project. Our marquee is fairly simple compared to some, so I can imagine how overwhelming it could be to begin the process of researching and restoration for a complex one. Good luck! Port Townsend is a nice town. We used to live near enough to visit it once in awhile. One thing: you might check Ebay for postcards of your theatre now and then. Occasionally a post card of our theatre comes up on ebay. Most post cards will show the original marquee fairly accurately, though not as detailed as one would wish.

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