Cinema Goes Retro with New Marquee

Art deco-style upgrade recalls '30s era

June 28, 2010

BY REBECCA STRUM For The Daily Gazette

Scotia Cinema will be updating its look by stepping back 80 years.

A new marquee installed at the cinema on Wednesday is part of the owner’s plan to return the theater to its 1930s look — both inside and out.

The updates were facilitated in part by grants from Metroplex Development Corp., which has split the costs of facade updates at several Mohawk Avenue businesses, including the recently made over Turf Tavern and Scotia Motors.

The new marquee utilizes an art deco style, with geometric embellishments and dozens of lightbulbs that harken back to jazz-age theaters.

“It’s what we’re all about at a neighborhood theater — to go back to that look,” Richard Adams, Scotia Cinema’s owner, said.

The first owners built the theater in 1929 and called it “The Ritz,” just as the first “talkie” movies were becoming popular.

It has been half a century since the Scotia Cinema marquee received an update, Adams said.

The old two-sided sign sat on top of the marquee as a separate piece, facing up and down Mohawk Avenue. From straight on, the theater’s name was not visible, making the new front view a significant change.

The old sign was in such disrepair that one side was completely trashed during its removal. The other side will have some inconspicuous home in the theater, Adams said.

“I’ll probably just throw it in the basement,” he said.

Adams has been planning the new marquee with the help of Metroplex and the architects from Johnson, Schmidt & Assoc. for about a year and a half, he said.

“It’s pretty cool. We like new things around here,” Caleb Buchanan, an employee at the cinema and resident of Scotia, said.

Although Adams won’t start selling tickets for the 1930s’ cost—20 cents — he will be expanding the theater to its 1930 proportions, an expansion of 50 seats.

The cinema plays second-run movies for half of the price it costs to see them played just days before at a regular theater.

Although the crowd at Scotia Cinema varies greatly, movies shown recently like ldquo;Letters to Juliet” attract more than 300 viewers from around Schenectady County, Adams said.

The expansion will help accommodate these larger crowds.

“Back in the ‘50s they put up a masonry wall and put a laundromat in back of the theater,” he said.

Since he took over in 1981, Adams has been using the space as rental units.

Now that they are gone and he has installed the proper fi re sprinklers, he can knock down the old wall and install new seating, he said.

On Friday afternoon, Mohawk saw another big change — the demolition of a McDonalds.

The demolition, carried out by the Jackson Demolition based in Niskayuna, will rid Scotia’s main thoroughfare of what many believed to be an eyesore, Ray Gillen, chairman of Metroplex, said.

The “county has pressed Mc-Donalds for a number of years to rid [the] Village of Scotia of this blighted building,” he said.

Gillen said he anticipates the facelift to businesses along Mohawk Avenue and throughout the county to continue.

Likewise, Adams said he would like to do additional work to the front of Scotia Cinema to beautify the theater.

“I still want to do some things to the front of the building, to make the front here fit that ‘30s look too,” Adams said.

Other News Stories You Might Be Interested In