Holly Theatre makeover begins

Holly Theatre makeover begins

A$225,000 facelift of the historic Holly Theatre in downtown Medford began in earnest this week when workers stripped off an awning to replace it with a replica of the original 1930 marquee.

The Jefferson Public Radio Foundation will be restoring the entire front of the Spanish-Colonial style building over the next few months. A 33-foot-tall vertical neon sign that says "Holly" will be installed on the corner of the building.

A marquee that was installed in 1976 was removed Tuesday from the building at the corner of Sixth and Holly streets, with plans for it to be used at the Randall Theater on Third Street.

"It's going from one theater to the other," said Robin Downward, the Randall's artistic director.

He said the donation of the marquee is the kind of collaborative effort that could turn Medford into a vibrant theater community.

Hammonds Construction of White City will remove other features from the Holly facade, then bring it back to its former glory.

Part of the money needed for the facade renovation — $100,000 — is coming from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency.

This is the first phase of the restoration effort that will create a 1,000-seat performing arts center in what was once the premier theater in downtown Medford.

"We are absolutely jubilant about today," said Ron Kramer, executive director of JPR, as he watched the old awning being removed.

He said crews will now get a better idea of what the original entrance to the building looked like, after removing brick and a lowered ceiling that were later additions.

Kramer said if the Medford Urban Renewal Agency approves an additional $200,000 request for the Holly work, a broken beam inside the building could be repaired by the time the facade is finished in the spring.

"The goal would be to have that beam fixed before the grand relighting ceremony," Kramer said.

If the beam is fixed, JPR could also bring people inside the building, which would still require considerable remodeling.

Altogether, JPR anticipates investing $3.5 million into the Holly.

Kramer said JPR will seek $3 million in tax credit money for historic buildings that would help pay for the Holly as well as the remodeling of the former Medford Grocery Warehouse on 10th Street that the public radio station now owns and plans to turn into its headquarters and broadcast center.

Downtown merchants are helping the cause by offering food and drinks with a Holly theme and donating some of the proceeds for the renovation. Porters features the "Good Golly Miss Holly" martini in a special 1940s style glass, and 38 Central has created a "Deck the Holly" martini.

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

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