Marquee set to go up at Rome Capitol Theatre

First of two phases of installation to begin today at historic West Dominick Street landmark


Rome Capitol Theatre, without a marquee since 1977, will have a newly fabricated marquee installed on the facade of the building, with work beginning today.

A project that has been in the works since 2002, the Capitol Theatre marquee and blade sign will be installed in two phases — first the marquee itself (the lower portion of the structure), starting today, followed by the vertical “blade,” which will follow a week later.

“This is something we’ve been working on for almost 20 years; it took the Downtown Revitatlization Initiative to make it happen,” said the Capitol Theatre’s Executive Director Art Pierce.

“It will really light up the 200 block of West Dominick Street, and people will be able to see it as they enter the city,” Pierce added. “But, besides the physical effect, we like to think it’ll be a beacon that represents the arts district in dramatic fashion, and symbolizes a new and vibrant heart of Rome.”

During its 93-year history the Capitol Theatre, 230 W. Dominick St., has had two marquees promoting its shows on its facade. The first was a marquee with curved frontage and a 45-foot high vertical sign, which extended to the top of the building. This was replaced in 1939 with a neon light marquee which was without a vertical blade.

Several years ago a committee comprised of Capitol Theatre board and staff members elected to replicate the 1928 marquee and blade, judging it to be more in keeping with the character of the 1928 building.

Chosen via a bid process to replicate the original marquee and blade sign was Wagner Sign Co. of Elyria, Ohio, specialists in the field of historic signage and recipients of the New York Landmarks Conservancy award for their accuracy in re-creating historic signage structures.

The newly created marquee and blade will replicate the dimensions of the original exactly, and will also have the exact number of bulbs as the 1928 version — 2,000— plus an additional 140-160 bulbs in the ceiling structure. All bulbs will be brushed LED, replicating the appearance of the original incandescent bulbs.

According to the Dec. 8, 1928, issue of the Rome Daily Sentinel, “The Capitol sign is the largest electric advertisement in the business section of this city and the largest vertical sign in Rome. It can be seen for many blocks on Dominick Street. The marquee of the theater will brighten up the entire block of West Dominick Street.”

Although the 1920s and 30s was an era in which numerous electronic advertising signs graced the downtown section of Rome, witnesses noted that the Capitol’s prominent marquee and blade stood out among all the rest.

Despite the 1928 newspaper account casually describing the structure as a “sign,” in the vernacular of the period, the Wagner Sign Company insists, “Signs are built to last 10 or 15 years. A marquee/blade is not a sign. It is very different. We design and fabricate our marquee/blades to last for decades and this would be typical for a marquee on a historical theater.”

Wagner Sign’s design of the marquee/blade was based on dimensions noted in historic blueprints, the Rome Sentinel newspaper account, which described each part of the marquee and blade, noting the number of bulbs and wattage of each that made up the various section, and historic photographs.

Funding for the Capitol Theatre restoration, the physical work of which has been ongoing for approximately 13 months, was provided by the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative project. Following the actual installation of the marquee/blade will be additional facade work including construction of the marquee’s roof structure, electrical and plumbing connections for the marquee/blade, installation of transom windows over the building’s storefronts replicating the originals that were covered over or taken down in 1939, and additional tasks.

The theater’s original 1939 poster cases are being restored and will be re-installed at a later date. The DRI portion of the project is scheduled to be completed on or around Dec. 17, and a marquee lighting ceremony, including the recreation of a 1928 Capitol movie program, is tentatively scheduled for the evening of Saturday, Jan. 15.

Vendors involved in the Capitol Theatre restoration project to date:

Alesia & Crewell Architects, P.C., New Hartford

Axis Custom Coatings, Oriskany

Beebe Construction Services, Utica

Bloomsburg Carpet, Bloomsburg, Pa.

Bronze Contracting, New Hartford

Churchill Environmental, Inc., Syracuse

Crever’s Welding, Rome

DeWald Roofing Co., Central Square

Finisher Flooring Corp., Syracuse

GPO Federal Credit Union, Utica

Geo. H. Parsons & Sons, Parson’s Sheet Metal, Rome

H.J. Brandeles Corp., Whitesboro

Hickory Dickory Docktor, Holland Patent

Irwin Seating Company, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Madonia Electric, Inc., Clinton

Meyda Lighting, Yorkville

Murnane Building Contractors, Whitesboro

L.A. Peckham & Son Pipe Organ Service, Horseheads

Pathfinder Bank, Utica

Rome Sign & Display Co., Rome

Safespan Scaffolding, Albany

Stuart Jackson, Atlanta, Ga.

Swiatek Studios, Clarence.

Syracuse Scenery, Syracuse

V & V Carpet Care, Whitesboro

Wagner Electric Sign Co., Elyria, Ohio



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