Monday, January 17, 2011
The planning for the reconstruction of the long-lost projecting marquee and neon blade sign at the Holly Theatre, in Medford, continues. With a funding application from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, JPR is working with three local sign companies in an effort to design entirely new, and energy efficient, signage that replicates the visual character of these features while using modern materials and electrical equipment to reduce operating costs.
These signs were BIG. The pylon, at the corner, was 33 feet tall and was considered the largest sign in Oregon outside of Portland when it was installed in 1930. The marquee, with its projecting globe lights and twined sine-wave neon rims must have lit up 6th Street to announce the shows. Re-creating them is a fun project…for me and for the sign companies. They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
One advantage that we have in Medford, aside from the financial support of MURA that helps this project go forward, is the City’s visionary adoption of alternate sign approval guidelines. A few years ago, after several restoration projects involving neon signs were forced to install 3/5th scale pylons by the city’s sign code, the Medford Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission took the bull by the horns and pushed forward alternate standards that essentially allow the City to ignore any aspect of code (height, projection, lighting, number, etc.) when the result better supports the historic character of downtown. Signs need to comply with building code, of course, but other than that, if you can convince LHPC it’s the right thing, they have the authority to approve it. We will hope that they agree a 33 foot tall sign, as much like the original as we can make it, will improve historic character!
Medford’s alternate sign standards are on the web, if you are interested.