Historic Theatre Marquee Updated with Digital Display

Two 6mm, 3-by-13-foot Watchfire digital displays were added to the sides of the marquee.

Watchfire Signs, a leading provider of exterior and interior LED signs, was selected by The Stanley Theatre in Utica, New York, to provide a digital upgrade to the theatre’s historic marquee.

The Stanley Theatre, constructed in 1928 as a movie palace, was designed by famous architect Thomas Lamb and is one of only a few Lamb theaters remaining in the country. Today The Stanley Theatre hosts concerts, Broadway shows, and other events in the nearly 3,000-seat venue.

Theatre management upgraded the original Bakelite readerboard marquee in 2008 to include a digital display. That sign began to fail and became a fire hazard, so the theater was forced to turn it off.

“The technology was dated and one day it started to smell like something was burning,” said Lisa Wilsey, executive director of The Stanley Theatre.

The theatre contacted Victory Signs of Canastota, New York, which specified and installed two 6mm, 3-by-13-foot Watchfire digital displays on the sides of the marquee.

“We were in a tough situation; when our signboard isn’t working, we look like we are closed or shutdown. Victory Signs and Watchfire Signs stepped up immediately to help our theatre, which in turn helps our community,” Wilsey added.

The marketing manager of The Stanley Theatre programs the digital displays remotely using Watchfire Ignite OPx software and uses Watchfire EasyArt pre-made animations and graphics to draw attention to the sign.

“We really love the new digital signs because they seamlessly provide the excitement of digital displays with the vintage look and feel of the original marquee,” said Wilsey. “The software makes the marketing manager’s job really efficient and cost effective for the theatre.”

According to Wilsey, the new marquee has become a selfie landmark in the community. “Our old display wasn’t high resolution so it didn’t photograph well. Now it’s not unusual for people to use the marquee as a backdrop for photos,” she said.

As a result, The Stanley Theatre is able to sell ads on the marquee to help the nonprofit defray the cost of maintaining the historic building.

“Our revenue has spiked since installing the signs. We have received an unprecedented number of calls for advertising, which put a whole new focus on the theatre,” Wilsey added.

Watchfire Signs is exhibiting at the League of Historic American Theatre’s National Conference, July 10-13, at the Crowne Plaza at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. The company will showcase how Watchfire Signs has helped theater owners integrate digital signs with historic marquees.

—Press Release