Knoxville, TN - Tennessee Theatre plans relighting ceremony for refurbished marquee

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on August 18, 2016 at 6:30 am


From WVLT-TV: After months of work replacing light bulbs and refurbishing the vertical sign and marquee outside the Tennessee Theatre, it’s time for the signs to light up again.

The theatre will celebrate the return of the iconic signage to Gay Street with a free open house and relighting ceremony on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

“The vertical sign is an important part of downtown Knoxville’s visual identity and our theater’s history,” Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock said. “After more than two months of work, we will welcome back our vertical sign and refurbished marquee, both of which will shine on Gay Street even brighter and better. We look forward to the public joining us for the celebration.”

McCarty Holsaple McCarty Architects and Interior Designers is sponsoring the open house, which includes self-guided tours of the stage and backstage areas from 6:00-8:00 p.m., and organ music from house organist Dr. Bill Snyder on the Mighty Wurlitzer. Visitors can also get their portrait with the marquee thanks to a caricature artist.

At 8:00, the celebration moves outside to Gay Street, where Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, Tennessee Theatre board members, and officials from Pattison Sign Group, along with other local officials and donors, in counting down to the official relighting of the sign and marquee with brighter, more energy-efficient LED light bulbs. The street will be closed in front of the theatre for the event.

The marquee project was announced back in April, and the Tennessee Theatre launched a $150,000 fundraising campaign to pay for the refurbishment, which was handled by Pattison Sign Group. Since then, the theatre has raised more than $136,000, and continues to ask for community support to completely fund the project.

Visitors will have the opportunity to contribute during the open house and relighting ceremony, either by sponsoring a light bulb for $25, or by purchasing several commemorative items, including a handcrafted vertical sign glass ornament or a fine art print of the marquee. Click here to find more information about the project.

A $65,000 grant from the City of Knoxville has also contributed to funding the project, as well as corporate gifts from Pattison Sign Group and Scripps Networks Interactive. Pattison Sign Group donated its services at cost to remove the vertical sign, replace all light bulbs, repair wiring and damage, and reaffix the sign to the building. The locally-headquartered company took the sign to its South Carolina facility and divided the vertical sign into three pieces in order to access all 3,300 bulbs, repaint it, and repair cosmetic damage from daily wear-and-tear. Pattison Sign Group also oversaw repairs on the marquee, which stayed in place on the building, but needed 2,400 bulbs replaced, along with repair and repainting.

“The Tennessee Theatre sign is one of the most beloved icons of our region,” said Jeff Allison, sales manager at Pattison Sign Group. “At Pattison, we do work around the world, but this project has been especially meaningful for our employees who live and work in this community. We are pleased to be able to give Knoxville a brighter and more beautiful sign and marquee.”

The vertical sign should return to its place on Gay Street about a week before the official relighting ceremony. It will remain dark until then.

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ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at



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