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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

September 22, 2009 at 4:21 PM

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New Paramount Theatre sign will be exact replica, more energy efficient

Posted by Gabriel Campanario

allenparamount092209m.jpg

12:47 p.m. [Click image to view larger]

When I found out that the Paramount Theatre is replacing its 1930s blue and gold sign (see press release) I immediately wanted to know all about it. Besides the Elephant Car Wash, I can't think of any other neon sign in Seattle as iconic as the one at the Paramount. Can you?

And, you know, I love any sign that adds life and improves the aesthetics of the urban landscape.

David Allen has worked at the theater since 1979 and is the director of operations. He was on vacation this week, but he was very gracious to meet me this afternoon. We chatted for a few minutes at the theater's fourth floor. "I'm always willing to come down and talk about the theater," he said.

Allen explained that the sign is being replaced with an exact replica, which is going to be more energy efficient. Most important, all 1,932 lights on the new one will work. Now only 80 percent do. A combination of aging, weather decay and pigeons picking at the wiring is partly to blame for the state of the 80-year-old sign. He said they'll keep the letters for historic nostalgia.

Look for cranes taking the sign down in three pieces on October 6. If you're like me, you'll want to have a memory of the old one by taking a photo or doing a sketch. I'll show you the one I did during today's hot afternoon tomorrow.

The theater has launched a campaign to raise funds to cover the costs of replacing the sign and restoring the marquee. Find more information on their website.

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