Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 20

PHOTO BY LI CUEVAS

AT LARGE

sound and the first in Lexington to
introduce Warner Brothers' Vitaphone
sound films." The site adds that the
theater was built by the Switow family,
who commissioned the design to
Joseph & Joseph [Architects] of
Louisville, Kentucky's oldest continuing architectural firm - and one of
its most distinguished.
The best-known Kentucky Theatre
guardians are Fred Mills, Isabel Yates,
the Friends of the Kentucky Theatre, the
City of Lexington and Tim Cambron
of Ruggles Sign Co. (Versailles, KY)
although Tim, with characteristic
modesty, noted his sign company
wasn't involved in the original preservation effort, but has maintained
the classic marquee sign for several
years. "We don't always charge what
we should," he said.
I met Fred, the theater manager,
at the theater box office on a balmy
evening in July. My wife and I had
been photographing Lexington's
excellent murals and at day's end, we
turned onto downtown Main Street
and spotted the soft brilliance of the
lit theater marquee in the distance.
It is a charmer. We parked the car
20

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

OCTOBER 2017

and while Li took light readings to
photograph the marquee, I walked
inside and found Fred. Although our
meeting was unplanned, it was as
if I had known him for years. I soon
noted that friendliness is his nature
and the theater, his life.
The original (1922) sign featured a
then popular Art-Nouveau mien with
open-face channel letters illuminated
by incandescent lamps. Fred said
the present neon-adorned marquee
was designed and installed in the '40s
and braved a renovation in 1992. In
2013, the "Friends" group voted to
modernize the theater and replaced
its projection system with a digital
device. They also replaced seats, carpeting, applied new paint and repaired
the marquee (Tim said they repaired
some water damage at that time).
The renovation also affixed all the
interior lighting with LED lamps, but
retained the original luminaires and
decorative fixtures in public areas.
During these processes, the group
discussed replacing the marquee neon
with LED-type neon and everyone,
including Tim from Ruggles, voted
to preserve the neon. The marquee

is, after all, a rare but functioning
antique.
You may remember that I've been
on a high horse before. In May (see
ST, May 2017, page 18), I described
my visit to the International Towing
and Recovery Hall of Fame and
Museum in Chattanooga, TN, and
said, "...although I loved the museum
and its exhibits, I was appalled upon
finding machine-cut vinyl letter signs
on trucks that clearly preceded the
common vinyl-sign era." At that time,
I talked with renowned signpainters
and pinstripers Jim (Dauber) Farr
and Bob Bond, and with American
Sign Museum Founder Tod Swormstedt; all agreed that museums that
exhibit antique signs should only
present signwork that matches the
object's era. LEDs and solid-state
lighting did not exist when the
Kentucky Theatre sign was redesigned in 1949; therefore, to remain
a truly historical sign, the marquee
neon must be, and has been (so far),
preserved.
After all, the theater's charm,
neon, antiquity and uniqueness are
what draw audiences.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - October 2017

Signs of the Times - October 2017
Contents
From the Editor
St Update
At Large
Tech Review
Vehicles + Vinyl
Design Matters
Nuts + Bolts
Vital Signs
Can You Make That in Neon?
Fabricating Bannerisms
Strictly Electric: It’s Good to Bb King
New Products
Advertising Index
Last Look
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Intro
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BB1
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BB2
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Signs of the Times - October 2017
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BD_L
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - BD
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Cover2
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 1
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Contents
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 3
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 4
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 5
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 6
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 7
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - From the Editor
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 9
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - St Update
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 11
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 12
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 13
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 14
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 15
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 16
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 17
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - At Large
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 19
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 20
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 21
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Tech Review
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 23
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Vehicles + Vinyl
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 25
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 26
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 27
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Design Matters
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 29
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Nuts + Bolts
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 31
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 32
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 33
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 34
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 35
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 36
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 37
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Vital Signs
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 39
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 40
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 41
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 42
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 43
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Can You Make That in Neon?
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 45
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 46
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 47
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 48
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 49
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Fabricating Bannerisms
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 51
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 52
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 53
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 54
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 55
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Strictly Electric: It’s Good to Bb King
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 57
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 58
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 59
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 60
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 61
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 62
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 63
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 64
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 65
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - New Products
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 67
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 68
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 69
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 70
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 71
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 72
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 75
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 76
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 77
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 78
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 79
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 81
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 82
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 85
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Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 88
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 89
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 90
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 91
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 92
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 93
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - 94
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Advertising Index
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Last Look
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Cover3
Signs of the Times - October 2017 - Cover4
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