BY KATHY GIBBONS
TRAVERSE CITY — Soffit lights designed to outline the top of the State Theatre’s façade have been dark for at least 15 years.
But they shined bright Wednesday night as the State marked another milestone in its ongoing $250,000 exterior revitalization project.
About 300 current and former Consumers Energy employees were expected to be on hand to mark the utility’s presentation of a $125,000 matching grant that helped fund the work. Rotary Charities of Traverse City contributed $50,000, with the remainder coming from local donations.
The first part of the project was completed last fall. At that time, a stainless steel border that resembles an upside-down squared-off “U”, along with wiring on the top of the marquee, were replaced, said Deb Lake, executive director of the Traverse City Film Festival, operators of the theater.
“That was really important,” she said. “It hadn’t been done since 1949. There were bare wires in there – it was very bad.
“It’s very good that the grant allowed us to do this.”
In August, the second phase began. Beside making the soffit lights functional again, the façade’s old red tiles, also 1949 vintage and showing substantial age and water damage, are being replaced.
Lake said the festival had hoped the panels would be done in time for Wednesday’s soffit light illumination. But workers have a few more weeks to go, which means covered walkways along the sidewalk in front of the theater will remain a bit longer.
“I can’t wait,” she said. “We’re all extremely excited about having those tunnels gone and for the work to be done.”
The State Theatre is one of 10 projects selected to receive $125,000 matching grants statewide as part of Consumers Energy’s 125th anniversary celebration.