The heart of the Arts District will soon harken back to an exciting time in Portland’s history. As it once was, the State Theatre marquee will again be a beacon at the crossroads of Congress and High Streets. The marquee is about to be restored, individual light bulbs and all, based on 1930s photographs that document the marquee’s original appearance. The demo begins in earnest on August 16.
The State Theatre is Portland’s only surviving movie palace from the early 20th century.
“The marquees of this period were intended to telegraph the excitement and drama associated with early movie palaces. One theatre historian called them ‘electric tiaras’,” explained Deb Andrews, the City’s Historic Preservation Manager.
Project architect Scott Simons worked closely with Portland’s Historic Preservation Board to insure a faithful reconstruction of the marquee on this designated local landmark. The only change to the original design will be light panels on the side announcing upcoming shows.
Among the final projects on Congress Street that is receiving funding from the City’s Façade Improvement Grant/Match Program, the State marquee is probably the most visible and exciting.
“A great example of a public-private partnership, the building owners, theatre operators, and the City were all in harmony on the importance of the State Theatre entrance reclaiming its grandeur,” said Nelle Hanig, the Façade Program Manager.
The City is pleased to be providing a $6,000 Façade Program grant, which is being matched with more than $77,000 of investment from Redstone and theatre operators Alex Crothers and The Bowery Presents.
“Theatre marquees dot the landscape of nearly every main street in America,” noted Mr. Crothers. “They’re a beacon that tells you this is a vibrant community that cares about arts, culture and history. When I started working on reopening the State Theatre in 2005 I knew restoring the marquee was a critical component of that process. Now, with the help of the City, we’re able to finally embark on restoring the only remaining historic marquee in Portland.”
The City’s contribution is funded by the Community Development Block Grant that it receives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.