Grant lights up theater sign fund-raising campaign in Amarillo, Texas

posted by Wes Reeves on March 30, 2006 at 2:58 pm

AMARILLO, TX — Center City of Amarillo, Texas has awarded a $40,000 grant to the Amarillo Historical Preservation Foundation (AHPF) to restore the historic Paramount Theater electrical sign that adorned the Paramount Building in downtown Amarillo from 1932 until the late 1970s.

The AHPF plans to raise at least $80,000 to complete the job and provide long-term maintenance on the sign, which will be placed in its original location on the Paramount Building, Ninth Avenue at Polk Street, when completed. The sign was removed in the late 1970s for use at a disco in the city’s warehouse district northeast of downtown. The AHPF acquired the sign in late 2005.

“We wouldn’t have considered a job so large without Center City’s help,” said Wes Reeves, president of the AHPF. “We can now get started on a dream we’ve had for a number of years.”

Wellborn Sign Company of Amarillo, with a major restoration award under its belt, has been chosen to restore the Paramount sign. Wellborn was the 2005 winner of the Texas Sign Association’s best restoration project for its work on the historic Ritz Theatre in Wellington, Texas, where a 1940s-era sign and marquee were brought back to life after years of neglect.

Wellborn now has possession of the 32-foot Paramount sign and already has begun the restoration process. The AHPF and Center City hope to have it relit in front of thousand of revelers at the Aug. 19 Polk Street Block Party.

“When Amarillo sees this sign lit again, they’re going to know that downtown is coming back,” Reeves said. “We believe this will further enhance a growing nighttime entertainment district along Polk Street.”

The Paramount sign has 850 clear and colored bulbs that flash and run to light up the letters that spell out Paramount. The AHPF is raising money from the public by allowing donors to “purchase” one of the bulbs for a $50 apiece. Anyone wishing to purchase a bulb may send a check to the AHPF, in care of Center City of Amarillo, 1000 S. Polk St., Amarillo, TX 79101. The AHPF is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization, and donations are tax deductible.

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