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State Theatre New Jersey

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State Theatre Gets a New Blade Marquee

A brightly lit theater marquee can draw in audiences from afar with its vibrant and colorful appearance. And this year, as part of State Theatre New Jersey's major renovations, a new sparkling blade marquee is being installed this summer! The style of this new, 30’ x 9’ vertical LED blade marquee will connect us with the theater’s roots of once being an art deco movie house. Blade marquees have been quite present in the 21st century, but aren't as common as they were in the early 1900s. A few historic theaters across the country still have their original marquees to keep them connected to that charming era.

The Arlene Schnitzer Hall in Portland, Oregon, built in 1927; and The Will Rogers Theatre Charleston, Illinois, built in 1935; both have vibrant blade marquees that appear to be set still in time. The oldest blade marquee in the United States however, is the marquee of the Historic Savannah Theatre built in 1818 in Savannah, Georgia. Like STNJ, these theaters' marquees were more popular when each space was used primarily a motion picture theater.

The new blade marquee at STNJ will be quite a stunning addition to New Brunswick, while still honoring our movie hall days. With modern construction, today's blade marquees can vary in color, size of text, digital displays, or it can even be given a massive 3D appearance. Our new, energy-efficient blade marquee will be red and gold, spelling out "STATE" with the letters outlined in red, and a beautiful fan-like top.

When the State Theatre started out (first as Reade's State Theatre, then B.F. Keith's State Theatre, followed by RKO State Theatre) as a movie theater, local residents would flock to the venue to be entertained by the latest film in this gorgeous venue. The State Theatre’s marquee became so prominent in New Brunswick that the Sunday Times took to the paper in 1929 to describe how it lit up Livingston Avenue and the city of New Brunswick. "One of the most pleasing bits of theatre advertising was the erection of the huge 'Rio Rita' lights stop at the State Theatre marquee. The arrangement was not costly, but for attractiveness the set of letters could hardly have been improved upon. Livingston Avenue appeared to be ablaze with color with the 'Rio Rita' sign lighted. So much so that during the following week the contrast in lights was noticeable, in spite of the huge permanent electric sign and vari-colored electric lights on the marquee.” During the film screenings of Rio Rita, the staff definitely pulled out all the stops for this additional display to the marquee. The flashing lights and the bold lettering drew in quite the crowd.

The installation of the blade marquee is a major highlight in the State Theatre's 2021 renovation plans and we can't wait for you to see it.

Blade marquee construction

Blade marquee construction

Blade marquee construction

Blade marquee construction

By Avelyn Simons

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