Friday, March 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday (on Friday): Re-opening the Grandin

Mark Jamison works on the new Grandin Theatre marquee.
The Grandin Theatre, Roanoke's last historic neighborhood theater, closed Nov. 11, 2001, and after some major fundraising and renovations, it re-opened Oct. 20, 2002. It has run--sometimes well, sometimes badly--since then.

I was on the board of directors when we did the drive to raise money for the re-opening. I remember when Roanoke City Council--with uber right-wing Mayor Ralph Smith (now, unfortunately, State Sen. Ralph Smith) at the helm--voted to match our fund-raising with city money. Foundation President Ed Walker called us together to announce Council's decision and he said, "We have great news. Council has just approved the matching grant on a unanimous vote, 6-1." Most council votes in those were unanimous 6-1 votes. Smith was not held in great esteem. But this was one of the best investments Council made during those days, paying itself back with newly generated taxes from successful new businesses in Grandin Village very quickly.

The photo at the top is of Mark Jamison, The Neon Man, who re-designed the sign to look as it orignially would have and re-built it. Mark was working on the final touches to the sign as a celebration event was being held on the night of Oct. 20. He was killed about a year later in a freak electrocution by a high wire in a wind storm in Roanoke.

Below are the old sign with "The Last Picture Show" being played as the Grandin Closed and Mark's reconstruction of the original on re-opening night, 2002.

The theater at its closing.
Re-opening night, Oct. 20, 2002, of the restored theater.

No comments:

Post a Comment