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Music Box Theatre's Iconic Marquee Getting Renovated After 88 Years

By Jessica Cabe | September 22, 2017 7:12am
 The Music Box Theatre's marquee is undergoing renovations for the first time in the theater's 88-year history. The work will be completed by Nov. 1.
The Music Box Theatre's marquee is undergoing renovations for the first time in the theater's 88-year history. The work will be completed by Nov. 1.
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DNAinfo/Jessica Cabe

LAKEVIEW — The beloved Music Box Theatre's marquee is undergoing the first significant renovations in its 88-year history.

The marquee has showcased nearly 10,000 movie titles, thousands of directors' names, a handful of marriage proposals and one World Series congratulations to the Cubs. The renovations to the theater that now specializes in independent and foreign films will ensure the marquee is able to continue playing a part in Chicago's history.

While the canopy marquee has seen fresh paint, updated lighting and new ornamental decorations over the years, these will be the first thorough internal renovations to this part of the theater.

"When we looked at doing yet another face-lift on the marquee, we found that the mounting issues both cosmetically and internally were not going to help the longevity of the marquee," said the theater's general manager, Ryan Oestreich, in an email. "We decided we should not only build a new marquee in the historic look and feel of the original, but a whole new superstructure to support the marquee to ensure it lasts another 90 years."


The Music Box Theatre, pictured here in the year it was built (1929), is renovating its marquee for the first time in the theater's 88-year history. [Provided/Music Box Theatre]

The renovated marquee will follow the same footprint and shape of the original and will include restored ornamental decorations from 1929 as well as modern, energy-efficient lighting.

"We have removed the pieces of the original marquee that we are reusing and [demolished] the rest of the marquee and superstructure," Oestreich said. "It will be a process to rebuild a new superstructure and then install the new marquee. This should happen no later than Nov. 1."

The project, led by Landmark Signs of Chesterton, Ind., will not interrupt regular programming.

The iconic blade sign that reads “Music Box” remains in excellent condition and will not be altered.

"Building a new marquee will remind our patrons of the magic that cinema has to offer in the city of Chicago," owner William Schopf stated in a press release. "Music Box's history is tied to our historic marquee, so maintaining the original look and feel is imperative."