Friday, January 3, 2014
In 2014 things will be changing on Main Street as the James Dean Theatre undergoes a much deserved facelift. With a vision that harkens to the mid-1930s and approved by the Architectural Review Board (ARB), the current marquee will be replaced with a modernized 1935 design. The existing marquee is “Going – Going – Gone!”
The marquee is a major focal point of the old theatre building, which tells passersby what is currently happening or coming to the theatre. The existing marquee was renovated when the theatre building was transformed by the “movers and shakers” of Summerville who created the Flowertown Players. Since then maintenance could not keep ahead of the ravages of nature. Several water leaks have deteriorated the metal surround and the tray for the underside chase lights. The light sockets have rusted making them unusable. Older technology has rendered the interior lighting ballast obsolete and part of the marquee remains dimly lit at night.
Miller Sign, in Charleston, is the contractor who is creating the new marquee by using a photograph of the 1935 movie house as inspiration, ideas from the board of directors, and recommendations from the ARB on what is acceptable in our downtown area. The manufacture of the marquee is currently in progress.
About 20 years ago, the building was last painted when Main Street South Carolina visited the area in conjunction with the creation of DREAM. They recommended the current color combination of pale yellow, green trim, and the former red roof. The roof shingles were replaced a few years ago with the current charcoal gray color. The new colors will include bamboo colored walls, black trim, and a red entrance way to compliment the colors of the lobby and renovated front office.
Future improvements include shutters and comedy/tragedy mask windows. Again the original 1935 design showcased shutters across the openings on the second level. The new shutters will be fixed and painted in a lighter color than the walls to provide visual interest. The center window houses the technical booth which bakes in the afternoon sun. The new shutter will cut the heat and allow for a more efficient use of the air conditioner unit.
The comedy/tragedy masks are endearing symbols of the theatre. The ones currently on the second level are vinyl on plywood backing and now peeling away from the wood. The theatre has talked with local artist Lex Melfi about designing theatre masks for the front entrance.
It has taken a couple of years to fund this improvement project. Major players involved are the Town of Summerville through the Hospitality-Accommodations Tax Grant, Junior Service League Grant, the 2012 Annual Gift Campaign, and private donations. Most, but not all, of the upgrades will be incorporated with the donations currently received.
Donations to the exterior project should be marked as “Marquee 2014.” Donations are tax-deductible as the theater is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Contact the theatre at 875-9251 for more information.