Grant of $100K will help Moscow Theater avoid LEDs and embrace its historic aspect by sticking with neon.
The historic Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow is trying to shine a little brighter.
The theater was recently awarded a $100,000 grant from the Idaho Heritage Trust to restore its historic marquee on Main Street. On Tuesday, the Kenworthy board of directors gathered to celebrate the grant.
The Idaho Heritage Trust awarded grants to nine historic theaters in Idaho, including the Bovill Opera House.
Colin Mannex, executive director of the Kenworthy, said the theater wants to use the money to restore the marquee by replacing its neon tubes, fixing the metal lattice on which the letters hang, replacing the backlights and plexiglass face, and removing rust. He said the marquee has been advertising films and events at the Kenworthy since the 1930s.
“By the time we’re done, using entirely historically consistent materials, it’s going to look amazing,” Mannex said.
The current marquee is illuminated at about only 65% of what it could be, he said.
Instead of using LEDs to upgrade its lighting like many other theaters have done, Mannex said he wants the marquee to maintain its historical aesthetic by using neon tubes instead.
“It’s the best material to use for the application that we want it to serve,” he said.
He plans to work with Yesco Sign and Lighting Service, of Post Falls, to provide the neon lighting.
Yesco’s bid came in at $184,000, and the Kenworthy is required to provide at least a 10% match of the Idaho Heritage Trust grant. So the theater will search for other grant funding and begin a fundraising campaign to cover the costs.
Mannex hopes to begin ordering materials in the coming weeks and finish the restoration by the end of summer 2024.
“It’s going to be really great,” he said.
Jeremy Ritter, who is a member of the Bovill Improvement Group, said there are “no words” to describe the feeling of receiving a $100,000 Idaho Heritage Trust grant to repair the Bovill Opera House.
“The whole group feels totally blessed that we got a grant of that magnitude,” Ritter said.
The building, which has been around since 1911, is the oldest wooden opera house in the state, Ritter said.
The Bovill Improvement Group plans to use the grant money to repair the front exterior wall and two exit doors this coming spring.
It is a significant step in the group’s goal of making the opera house operational again. Ritter said the group is still searching for more grants and donations to make the building suitable for hosting events.
He said the opera house closed in the 1950s and the inside has been left untouched since, including the seating and the projection room. He said it is like walking into a “time capsule.”
“It’s a pretty amazing building,” he said.
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