A sign of the times for Paramount Theatre

Posted September 30th, 2009 by genestout

Paramount Theatre sign

Paramount Theatre sign

Beginning Oct. 6, the venerable Paramount Theatre will shed its iconic blue and gold, nearly 80-year-old sign for a new, energy-efficient replica.

The photo above shows the sign and marquee (which will be renovated at a future date) on the week in March that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceased publication.

The old sign is in sad shape, just like the old P-I globe. It’s been marking the entrance to the Paramount since 1930, when the original sign that read “SEATTLE” was reskinned to say “PARAMOUNT.”

The work of taking down the old sign and replacing it with a new replica will take about six days to complete, weather permitting. Once in place, the new sign will look just like the old one, without the not-to-obvious signs of deterioration.

The Sign Factory made hand rubbings of the old sign and took measurements of every nut, bolt, screw and piece of sheet metal. And like everything else these days, computers were used to duplicate the original design.

The old sign uses nearly 2,000 incandescent bulbs, drawing 11 watts per bulb. New LED bulbs will use .75 watts per bulb and will be driven by electrical chasers instead of mechanical chasers. The new sign will also use recycled materials.

The new sign, as well as future repairs to the marquee, will cost $616,000. But $331,000 has been raised through the support of 4Culture, Washington State’s Building for the Arts and Seattle Foundation. The Seattle Theatre Group, which operates the Paramount and Moore theaters, plans to raise an additional $150,000 for the project. If you’d like to donate, visit the Web page for the renovation project. You’ll also find a video about the project.

If any parts from the old sign are salvageable, they may end up in museums or in the hands of philanthropists. If you’d like to learn more, contact Aaron Semer at 206-467-5510.

The sign replacement will not affect operation of the Paramount Theatre next week. The theater and box office will remain open for business.


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