There are many people who are thrilled about the re-creation of the
Capitol’s marquee, and for a wide variety of reasons. City of Rome
representatives see it as a signal that Rome’s downtown has officially
re-opened for business. Patrons will be excited to visit a venue with
such a beautiful façade. Meanwhile, the Capitol’s board and staff are
simply eager to complete our restoration with this enormous and historically-
accurate cherry on top. It’s an exciting time to be involved
with the Capitol!
One of the questions often asked is if this marquee will be identical
to the one locals remember as children. The answer is a resounding
“Absolutely not!” The Capitol, in fact, had two marquees in
its time. The first was installed when the theater was under construction.
The second was erected in 1939, since by this time the 1928
marquee was a bit old-fashioned and stuck out like a sore thumb
among the more modern looking W. Dominick Street businesses.
You may ask why our Restoration Committee elected to restore our
1928 marquee, as opposed to the 1939 model. There are many reasons.
First of all, while Romans would like to see the one they remember
from their childhoods, this is not the point of our restoration.
We’re not just here to make people happy, but to restore the
theater as accurately as possible. Secondly, the 1928 marquee was
actually more impressive! It included a 40ft. vertical blade sign that
extended over the building and this was so prominent you could even
see it as you entered the city.
It was not an easy task to plan this monstrosity. The money had to be
raised, first of all, and without the City of Rome’s awarding the Capitol
$2.5 million from its Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, it
never would have happened. Sure, efforts have taken place over the years.
You may remember the paper
light bulbs that were once plastered all over our lobby in
sponsorship of the marquee. The snag? The replica costs about
$900,000. Good luck raising that with $1 donations!
We started working with Wagner Electric Sign Co. of Elyria, OH
about 20 years ago to see what would be involved in re-creating
our original marquee. This was long before we had the means to
actually purchase it, but there was no harm in planning. Many
have asked why we did not opt to hire a local firm to do the
work. To them we ask, “There are historic marquee experts in Central
New York?” A marquee is not a sign. It is an engineered
structure. They have complex systems of drains, as well as even
more complex electrical components for the hundreds, if not
thousands, of light bulbs involved. In fact, ours will hold 2,000.