Say you want to see a movie. Youre heading to the Rowland Theatre to catch Magic Mike on the biggest indoor screen in central Pennsylvania, because its the next best thing to seeing Thunder from Down Under in IMAX. And there you see it. An antique work of art.
No, Im not talking about Matthew McConaughey. Im talking about the hidden treasure that has been buried on the Row-lands facade for decades. The old marquee.
Everyone has known about it forever, but unless youve lived here for 40 years or so, you never saw it, and it was easy to forget that anything other than the pebbly stucco box has ever graced the front of Front Streets grand old lady.
In recent years there have been worries about preservation of the old marquee, especially with the more modern mask sustaining damage from high trucks, a concern that dates back to 2008 when the problem was first brought to the attention of the borough, which owns the 1917 movie palace.
Rowland Theatre Inc., meanwhile, the nonprofit that operates the theater, has long wanted to raise money to see the original artisan glass marquee restored to its former glory, much like it would like to see the proscenium mural surrounding the stage undergo restoration one day. Both projects have the same starting block: money.
But while visitors to the theater could see isolated pieces of the underlying artistry painted around the stage and screen, the marquee has been a mystery seen only in old photographs until now.
The boxy facade has been peeled away, and the glass is sparkling in the sun for the first time in many peoples memories. Is it perfect? Maybe not. But the Venus de Milo doesnt have arms, and the sphinx in Egypt doesnt have a nose. Sometimes its just enough for something historic to be beautiful, whether its flawless or not.
Lori Falce writes weekly about the Rush Township/Philipsburg area. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.