Signs give us a chance to pause for a moment and consider the building behind the sign and its history. In Portland, there are a number of opportunities to do this, especially with theatre buildings because the city has maintained much of its theatre history.
The first example we see of this is the Hollywood Theatre which opened in 1926. According the Puget Sound Pipeline, it opened “during the heyday of silent films and grandiose picture palaces…it was one of the most ornate neighborhood theatres in the Pacific Northwest” (Puget Sound Pipeline). On the outside, it was easily identifiable by it’s Byzantine inspired tower. While, once one stepped foot into the theatre, the 1500 seat theatre and the art deco interior would have wowed visitors, at a time when movies accessible to the average worker for the first time. It seems the architects behind the Hollywood Theatre desired to impress and treat the movie-goers to an experience they would not soon forget. An opening day advertisement described the theatre as a “palace of luxury, comfort and entertainment unsurpassed by any theatre on the Coast” (The Oregon History Project). It seems from this description, the designers certainly succeeded in giving movie star fans the movie star treatment.
The sign in front of the theatre gives a passer-by the chance to do more than just think about the present business, but it also allows a viewer to reflect on the past and learn more about their neighborhood’s culture.
© Landmark Signs Inc. 2015