Help restore historic theater front and marquee of downtown Longview Theater. We have a $10,000 matching grant and need $25,000 more.
Longview’s historic movie theatre is now home to Longview's nonprofit theater Stageworks Northwest, and is in dire need of a new marquee and facade. The current marquee is crumbling and leaking, with damaged neon bulbs, chipping paint, rusted metal, and broken backing and twinkle light sockets.
The goal of this Kickstarter campaign is to raise the remaining $25,000 to fabricate and install a new neon, illuminated sign based on the design of the theater’s original marquee of 1941. The City of Longview has awarded us a $10,000 matching grant which we need to full fill in the next 90 days or we loose it all, now we just need people to step forward with financial pledges. Every donor will receive a reward, which may include performance tickets, vintage marquee letters, donor’s name and message displayed on the new marquee, and the opportunity for a private performance at the theater for you and your friends. See all the options posted to the right!
There is great community support behind the idea, now we just need people to step forward with financial pledges. The idea behind this historic marquee revival is to honor the Longview Theatre’s past while setting the stage for the future. The existing marquee is over 70 years old and becoming dangerous. This new marquee will help us reclaim the theatre's prominance in down town Longview and build up the Commerce area.
The restored marquee will reflect the theater’s long heritage and be a sign of great things to come. We hope you will support us. It’s a long-term investment in our community. Let the show, marquee and facade, go on! Thank you!
Longview Stageworks strives to enlarge live theatre arts as a vital part of the local quality of life by stimulating interest in, appreciation for, and participation in the theatre arts.
HISTORY OF THE LONGVIEW THEATRE BUILDING By Leslie Slape
Built by pioneer Longview businessman Steve Oversby, the Art Deco-style Longview Theatre opened Jan. 1, 1942, in one of the prime locations on Commerce Avenue. Pioneer projectionist Chuck Leach of Kelso was a matinee operator there and recalled that it took the public awhile to get used to the curved balcony stairs with no landings. William Eagen became manager at the Longview in 1945. Under Eagen’s management, the Longview Theatre snagged the newer pictures. The Longview Theatre operated as an independent movie house until 1948, when Oversby sold it to the Sterling Theatre chain. Sterling already owned the Kelso Theatre and the Columbia Theatre, which had been converted from a live theater to a movie house. Eagen fondly remembered the promotional stunts the Longview Theatre sponsored. To publicize Winchester '73 with James Stewart in 1950, a girl walked up and down Commerce Avenue selling silver dollars for only 50 cents. (Silver dollars were used for rifle targets in the film). She sold only one coin because people thought the coins were fake -- the offer sounded too good to be true! To plug 1952’s Springfield Rifle, starring Gary Cooper, a man in full cowboy regalia rode a horse around the Longview schools when classes were dismissed. Eagen even had a horseman ride up one of the theater's aisles and out the door. The Longview Theatre featured big-budget films such as 1949’s Samson and Delilah. Unfortunately, rental costs for big films were so high that it was hard for the theater to turn a profit. In an attempt to draw crowds, the theater in 1953 converted to CinemaScope -- "The modern miracle you see without special glasses" – to show the biblical epic The Robe starring Richard Burton. The new process required a wide, slightly curved screen and included a primitive form of stereophonic sound. But even CinemaScope couldn't compete with the phenomenon of television, and the Longview Theatre closed in late 1954. Its final film was the western The Purple Plain with Gregory Peck. On Nov. 26, 1970, after 16 years of darkness, Sterling reopened the extensively remodeled theater to great fanfare with Hello, Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand. From a 1970 Daily News story: The movie house has a capacity of 530, has new comfort seats and features Continental seating on the main floor with aisles on the sides only. Ceilings have been treated and the walls draped to provide improved acoustics for a new sound system. The larger screen is 34 feet by 17 feet. In front is a “waterfall” curtain which raises, rather than “opening like a barn door.” The moviegoer walks into a modern lobby, attractively illuminated and decorated, complete with new concession bar. Everett Lamb, well-known local theater man, will be manager. A 1971 Daily News story gushed about the “red carpet treatment” at the Longview Theatre, which not only had a new red carpet in the lobby, but one outside as well. In the 1980s, multiplexes drew audiences away from single-screen theaters such as the Longview Theatre, while the Columbia Theatre down the street had been reconverted back to a live theater. After Sterling opened the Triangle Cinema multiplex in 1983, it closed the Longview Theatre a second time. In 1986 it reopened under new owner Cineplex Odeon, which added the Three Rivers multiplex in 1989. In 1990 Cineplex dropped prices at the Longview Theatre to $1.50 for second-run double features. In 1992 the renamed Longview Cinema, just bought by Act III Cinemas, resumed first-run films for $5. Regal Cinemas, the nation’s largest movie chain, was the final owner. In 2000 Regal identified the Longview Cinema as “underperforming” and put it on the market. Both a church and an adult entertainment business showed interest – causing a political ruckus -- but neither bought it. On July 22, 2001, Regal shuttered Longview Cinema along with 98 other theaters in the United States. Ralph and Shelley Siegrist of Longview bought the building and reopened it as The Board Room, an indoor skate park. The Board Room was in business from 1995 thru 2008, operating from 2002 until 2008. The Siegrist's son Chris and several partners reopened it as Standing Ovation, using the lobby for rock concerts by local bands. That enterprise ended in fall 2011. In February 2012, the 70-year old Longview Theatre building got a new lease on life. The Siegrists' had been looking for a way to use the building to help the community. Along came Longview Stageworks, which had been homeless since 2009 after the Pepper Studio Theatre, where it had presented plays since 1997, was dismantled during the major remodel of the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. Now renamed Stageworks Northwest, the theater company purchased the Longview Theatre building for $250,000 from the Segrists' and began remodeling it as a live theater. The Segrists' told The Daily News they talked to several potential buyers but wanted to see the theater go to Stageworks. "We wanted them to get it because of what they represent in town," Ralph Siegrist said. "It's a great cause." The first fully staged production was “Trouble Bubbles at the Hot Springs,” a melodrama directed by Jamie Hegstad, which opened July 6, 2012.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The fundraising is the biggest risk and challenge for this project. We have already received $10k in a matching grant and need $25k to complete it and receive the entire amount . Once we have the entire fabrication and installation costs in hand, we will be able to make it happen right away. Potential challenges with completing the project include weather delays and permitting delays.
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