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The Paramount keeps the old look but has a new lease on nightlife.


Photos by Kyle Johnson

The first sign said simply SEATTLE. Lights ablaze, on March 1, 1928, the new Seattle Theatre opened, designed by the famed Chicago architectural firm Rapp and Rapp, known the world over for their opulent movie palace creations. Another sign went up at the palace in the 1940s when the Seattle Theatre changed its name to the Paramount. The Paramount sign was brilliant, aglow with 1,970 incandescent bulbs, illuminating the corner of Ninth and Pine for decades.

Another sign went up at the historic theatre last month, though you can’t tell by looking at it. It’s an exact replica of the original Paramount sign, sixty-fi ve glowing feet of aluminum, hearkening back to our city’s vibrant cultural history and quietly boasting 90 percent energy savings.

The new sign was designed by the Sign Factory, whose other clients include Macy’s, Albertson’s, US Bank and ING Direct. “We actually held paper up to the sign and traced the whole thing,” says Jim Risher, one of the members of the Special Projects Team at the Sign Factory. Every curve, shape, contour and detail was rubbed onto paper before being transferred into a Computer-aided design program. From there, models were made before actual work began on the remaking of the iconic sign, using green .75-watt LED lights rather than old 11-watt fl uorescent bulbs.

At a total cost of $616,000, with funds coming from Seattle Theatre Group as well as from public and private donations, the new sign will undoubtedly be aglow for many years to come.

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