Preparations are underway for a Saturday night lighting ceremony at the Holly Theatre in downtown Medford. The restored marquee will be illuminated as part of a major effort to restore the theater to its 1930s glory. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch

Celebration spotlights Holly Theatre facade

When the lights are turned on at Medford's Holly Theatre tonight, Tim Ramey will watch as his creation comes to life.

Ramey, with Alpha Signs in Sacramento, Calif., helped build the 33-foot-tall corner "blade" sign, as well as the marquee.

"It's close to one of the biggest blade signs I've ever done," Ramey said.

Ramey and other members of the Alpha Signs crew will be on hand for the relighting ceremony of the Holly, showcasing the recreation of the facade as it looked when the building first opened in 1930.

The festivities will begin at 7 p.m. Sixth Street between Holly and Grape streets will be closed while the Easy Valley Eight provides entertainment and 38 Central provides food and refreshments.

Sometime after 8 p.m., the Holly Theatre Restoration Committee and Mayor Gary Wheeler will give presentations, followed by the lighting.

Cracked trusses inside the building are still being repaired, so visitors won't be able go inside the theater.

A local company, Epic Scan, has prepared a 3-D video tour of the interior depicting what the theater will look like after it's restored. The video will be displayed during the event.

The facade repairs will cost up to $275,000, with $100,000 paid by the Medford Urban Renewal Agency. MURA's contribution will be marked by a special donor tile in the entry.

Applegate resident John Gilbert, who last went past the Holly a month ago, marveled at the progress Friday.

"What a difference," he said. "It amazes me how fast they've done all this."

"It's beautiful," added his wife, Barbara.

Most passersby Friday wondered whether the restoration is historically accurate, but the Jefferson Public Radio Foundation, which owns the building, says it attempted to recreate a faithful replica.

Even the wooden window sashes were taken out, cleaned, repainted and reinstalled.

The two sign replicas, based on photos of the originals, cost $80,000.

The biggest marquee created by Alpha was an 80-foot-long sign at The Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif., that contained about 3,000 lights.

Jason Lane of Alpha Signs said the Holly marquee was difficult to build. Each four-foot tube of neon had to be bent inch-by-inch to achieve the curvy pattern.

"It was all hand-done," he said.

The red neon tubes had to be specially ordered from Italy, he said.

Lane said the crew wants to be on hand Saturday night to see the lights and the reaction from the crowd.

"Also, we want to make sure everything works," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email

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