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Morning Sun
  • Colonial Fox marquee taken down

  • Michael Beaver knows the Colonial Fox quite well. He was among the dozen or so community members that stood on the Broadway sidewalk as the Colonial Fox Theatre marquee was taken down on Thursday morning.

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  • Michael Beaver knows the Colonial Fox quite well. He was among the dozen or so community members that stood on the Broadway sidewalk as the Colonial Fox Theatre marquee was taken down on Thursday morning.
    “I used to work there as the assistant manager in 1978,” Beaver said. “Several things go through my mind. It’s mixed emotions. I never saw it as the Colonial, but it’s also sad to see that [marquee] come down. But I’m excited to see it change. Nobody’s ever seen what’s behind there.”
    That’s not quite true. Jeanette Minnis’ mother, 93, must have been 10 or 11 years old when the first marquee was placed on the Colonial Fox around 1930, but she is one of the few in the community to remember the building without a marquee. The current marquee was put in place around 1959.
    The marquee that came down Thursday was originally a part of the Midland Theatre, once almost literally across the street. When it moved in 1959, it gained the Fox name.
    The marquee came down Thursday as part of both short-term and long-term plans for the renovation of the Colonial Fox. In the short term, as facade improvements continue to the theatre, contractors needed the marquee to come down to have better access to the historic arch and features on the front of the building. In the long term, the marquee is the showpiece of a proposed future expansion of the theatre to the north.
    Vonnie Corsini, executive director of the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation, was busy taking photos throughout the process Thursday morning, and while the marquee is down, that doesn’t mean it’s gone.
    “I’m excited about it. Sarah [Jensen, CFTF marketing/public relations director] said that three different people came up and said they didn’t know the building’s front was so pretty,” Corsini said. “... I’m not sad. I’ve been involved  in this vision so long I don’t feel like I’m saying goodbye. It’ll be protected, and bless its heart, it’s hung up there with pigeons, and the wind breaking the glass. It’s endured decades of being neglected. It’ll be protected, and now we can make her what she needs to be.”
    B&R Services was tasked with bringing the marquee down, which was a little bittersweet for B&R owner Greg Blancho. Blancho and his three brothers all worked for the Colonial Fox years ago.
    “My oldest brother started here in 1966, when he was 16, because you had to be 16 to work here,” Blancho said. “We used to keep a cheap, rickety, aluminum ladder in the back, just tall enough to reach that marquee. We had to go out the backdoor, and carry that ladder through the alley to the front. They paid us extra to change the marquee letters.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Blancho and Minnis shared stories back and forth about the glory days of the Colonial Fox. Minnis said that the theatre was the junior high meeting place, where “Colgan boys would meet Lakeside girls.” Blancho had his own memories.
    “At the time, everyone wouldcome to the show. My buddies would come, and I was running the projector. That was my job. We generally closed the top part of the theatre. My buddies would come in the back and watch the movie,” Blancho said.
    But Blancho knows that although the marquee came down today, there’s a bigger plan in place.
    “I think when the front is all done and retouched, it will be real cool,” he said. “It’s sad to see it go, because it’s our memory, but it will be back.”

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