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Historic rooftop sign will be relighted April 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Signs, Theaters.
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The historic rooftop sign on the Highland Theatre in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles will be relighted at 7 p.m. May 17, according to a news release from the North Figueroa Association.

The sign contains 502 light bulbs. Its restoration was paid for by donations and a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

The relighting ceremony will take place at the Old LA Farmers Market, at Marmion Way and Avenue 57 (one block west of North Figueroa Street and near the Highland Park Metro Rail Gold Line station).

From the news release:

The Highland Theatre was designed in 1924 by noted theatre architect Lewis “L.A.” Smith.  Its grand opening, attended by actress Norma Shearer, took place on March 5, 1925.

Originally a single-screen theatre, the Highland Theatre sat 1,432 patrons. Today, it is a triplex. North Figueroa Street was once dotted with movie theatres. The Highland is the only one remaining. The theatre was declared a City of Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument in 1991.

The theatre’s sign is one of only two large incandescent-bulb signs still in use along Route 66 in Los Angeles. Its preservation is, therefore, important not only for Highland Park, but for the whole of Los Angeles. The 502 exposed incandescent light bulbs spell out “Highland” in green and “Theatre” in white.

The North Figueroa corridor was part of historic Route 66 from 1931 to 1934 and again from 1936 to 1960. In 1940, the Arroyo Seco Parkway, a designated National Scenic Byway, opened paralleling North Figueroa Street just to the south and became the official Route 66 alignment into Los Angeles.

Later this year, the nearby Manning’s Coffee Store sign will be relighted as well. The North Figueroa neighborhood also is the site of the Chicken Boy mascot that once graced the rooftop of a downtown Los Angeles restaurant, also on an old alignment of Route 66.

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