Virginia Theatre will get new marquee

Virginia Theatre will get new marquee

CHAMPAIGN — The historic Virginia Theatre will be getting a new marquee — or old marquee, depending on how you look at it.

The Champaign Park District board voted 3-2 Wednesday night to request designs for a fresh marquee resembling the 1921 rectangular sign original to the building.

The recognizable yellow neon sign that has advertised Virginia Theatre events since the 1940s has stood in a state of disrepair for some time, and now hangs condemned above the Park Street sidewalk. It likely will display its last advertisement next week before the theater closes for renovations.

Board member Barbara Kuhl, who voted for the change, said the current marquee is in such bad shape that it was time for a new one.

“Either way it was going to be a new marquee,” Kuhl said.

The marquee replacement is part of more than $600,000 worth of renovations funded by private donations that will close the theater until the end of November. Park district officials have said the new marquee will reveal more of the upper level facade and return the building to its original Italian Renaissance-style architecture.

But board president Jane Solon said the majority of area residents she had heard from opposed a redesign of the Virginia marquee.

“What we will be creating will not have any historical significance,” Solon said.

Urban planner Alice Novak said the removal of the neon marquee, which was added to the building sometime during the second half of the 1940s, puts the theater’s national historic landmark designation at risk.

Novak sits on the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council, the body responsible for reviewing historic designations, and said she will personally bring the Virginia Theatre issue to the council.

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msquared wrote on June 10, 2010 at 9:06 am

The way I see it the original Marquee was there for about 20-25 years and the current one almost 70 years. I think the current marquee has more historical merit. By the way, the yellow plexiglass panels were not in place until probably the 1980s

Greatideas3 wrote on June 10, 2010 at 1:06 pm
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I guess the Marquee will be eventually moved to New York................