The Proctors marquee is complete and awaiting its striking new element — digital panels — before returning to its pedestal on State Street next week.
Richard Olson, owner of Olson Signs and Graphics in Scotia, has been working for the past month on rehabilitating the marquee, which looks nearly identical to the original marquee built in 1926.
“It looks very similar to the original,” Olson said. “I like to think I’ve made little improvements though.”
Olson and the marquee go way back. He built the marquee he dismantled last month in 1983. It was one of the first signs he created at the company. He said the work has proven easier the second time around.
The marquee was sandblasted to the bare metal, leaving 3,000 pounds of sand to clean up. Some of its structure was heavily rusted from water damage and replaced.
“The areas that were bad were bad, but most of the marquee was actually in good shape,” Olson said. “This has been our priority for the past month. We barely worked on anything else, but our other customers have been really patient.”
The marquee was painted with two coats of primer and two coats of beige and red paint. Olson said the paint color is similar, but a little darker. The paint alone cost $2,500, he said.
The light sockets — all 1,500 of them — were replaced and will be filled with new LED bulbs. How many workers will it take to screw in those light bulbs? Just one, but it might take a couple of hours.
“That person’s hand is going to get tired,” Olson joked, saying a Proctors employee might be stuck with the task.
The digital panels will be placed where black block letters were previously put up by hand. The display will be set on a one-minute rotation, highlighting events, shows and sponsors. It will also be able to play animation and video.
“The electronics were more than half the cost of the entire project, about $100,000 at least,” Olson said. “This LED is good, and the resolution will just be fantastic.”
Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors, said he is excited to see the marquee and play around with the digital display. Disney’s “Newsies The Musical” will be the first show featured on the new marquee.
Aside from the digital upgrade, Morris was pondering another big change to the marquee — removing the apostrophe.
“We debated a lot about what to do with the apostrophe,” he said. “It would have required moving the ‘S’ if we removed the apostrophe.”
Other than the spacing issue, Morris said he ultimately decided to leave the apostrophe because it is an original characteristic of the vintage marquee.
“This is the marquee that has been there since the 1960s,” he said. “We are restoring the marquee with electronics but leaving everything else exactly the way it was. So after all was said and done, we decided to just leave it.”
Olson plans to start securing the marquee on the Proctors building Tuesday or Wednesday, but it will take days, maybe weeks, to see the finished project. The three parts that make up the marquee on State Street will take days to put up. By the end of next week, Olson expects to receive the digital panels, which will take another few days to install.
After the main marquee is unveiled, the marquee on the back of the building and at Proctors’ GE Theater will be put up.
The project costs a total of about $250,000. The Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority is providing a $97,000 grant for the work.
“I’m ecstatic to see the marquee go up,” Morris said. “And with the work we’re doing inside the theater, by the time ‘Newsies’ debuts, people are going to see quite a spruced-up place.”