A marquee event relights Portland’s State Theatre

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PORTLAND — A landmark theater in the city has its name in lights again.

“It feels fantastic,” State Theatre co-owner Alex Crothers said May 3 after more than 600 marquee bulbs were energized during a spring rainstorm. “This has been on the list since we began renovating the theater in 2010.”

It took 10 months of work and about $100,000 to restore and illuminate the marquee, Crothers said. The city provided $18,000 in funding from a facade improvement program, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said May 1.

That funding is part of the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant program, using money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Built in 1929, in the days when movies first had sound, the State Theatre is the last of the elegant “movie palaces” in the city and is now a concert venue.

The restoration brings the marquee back to its original character, but also includes LED lights to make it more energy efficient.

“We had to have the historic feel,” co-owner Erik Hoekstra said.

The owners worked with the city’s Historic Preservation Board on the project, and referred to vintage photos to recapture the original look and feel.

Architect Scott Simons led the project, which included Southern Maine Rentals  and Neokraft Signs.

Electrician Jason Morneault handled the wiring and connections, working with circuits he said were already in place and in good condition.

“I love it, it has been a long time coming,” Morneault said as he basked in the glow.

Morneault is as familiar with the State Theatre as almost anyone; he helped rewire it for concerts.

“I have been in every nook and cranny of this building,” he said. Throughout his explorations and work, he said he has found a vintage structure that was wired to last.

Outside, Crothers and Hoekstra said they have a building that will beckon people.

“Wait until it is dark, that is when you will really see the beauty,” Crothers said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling, center, and State Theatre co-owner Alex Crothers point the way as the restored theater marquee on Congress Street is turned on May 3.

Relighting the marquee of the State Theatre on Congress Street in Portland took 600 bulbs and about $100,000, the owners said. The city included $18,000 in grant money.

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