Egyptian Theater Almost Ready for Its Close-Up

Egyptian_sharpBack in 2011 the Egyptian Theatre (built in 1925) was placed on Restore Oregon’s Most Endangered Places list.  It had been shut down by our theatre’s owner, the Urban Renewal Agency of Coos Bay, because of structural concerns.  In 2012 the City of Coos Bay and the Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association (ETPA) embarked on an intense campaign to raise the funds needed to implement structural repairs and re-open the Egyptian.  A seed grant from Restore Oregon funded a market study that demonstrated the economic viability of the theater, which gave our campaign credibility.

With strong support from our local community, the City of Coos Bay, and many wonderful foundations, we were able to raise the funds required, perform the needed construction, and celebrate our Grand Re-Opening in June of 2014.  Along the way the ETPA board decided that we should extend our restoration efforts to include exterior restoration of the theatre as well.


The Egyptian Theater circa 1930s.

With the large investment our community made in structural enhancements and interior modifications (such as adding two ADA restrooms on our main floor), we wanted to make sure the exterior of our theatre was “weather tight” (after all — we are located in the Pacific Northwest!) and that the Egyptian’s facade and marque better reflected its historic character and the wonders contained inside.

George Kramer, an advisor to Restore Oregon and past Chair of the Oregon Heritage Commission, worked with us to develop the design of the Broadway facade for the theatre.  Our plan incorporates elements from several periods of its 90 year history.

We are completely re-stuccoing the Broadway facade to remove tiles added over the years and bring back the facade texture of the 1925 theatre.

We are moving the entrance doors back so the historic ticket booth “pops out” as it did originally  and adding transom windows above the entrance doors to bring more light into the lobby.

Historically appropriate doors will include large brass cobra handles that echo details found on historic light fixtures inside of the theatre.

Though the new poster display cases will contain LCD screens, they and the fire exit doors will be framed with Egyptian motif frames fabricated to look like the original framing used in the interior of the theatre.

Egyptian Facade after Restoration

Conceptual rendering of exterior restoration.

A new canopy will be installed that employs a design used in the early years of the theatre, and painted Egyptian figures and symbols will be added near the entrance and above the canopy.

With regard to the marquees, we will be retaining and refurbishing the “Egyptian head” pylon sign that so many of our patrons remember fondly.  In addition, we will be adding a large, new marquee mounted on the canopy that harkens back to the original that arched across Broadway (Since Broadway is Hwy 101, ODOT would not allow us to rebuild a marquee that extended over the street).

Finally, we are redoing the sidewalk in front of the theatre entrance to both resolve water intrusion issues and beautify the entrance.  For the sidewalk we are using a decorative tile design developed by Coos Bay City Councilor Mike Vaughan (a landscape architect by profession).

Egptian Interior 5-crop

Interior view of the Egyptian.

We have begun implementing various facets of the Broadway facade restoration as our fundraising provided the funds to proceed.  All of the exterior “weatherizing” work (new stucco and exterior paint, resealing of the roof, all new rain gutters and water drainage, new tile sidewalk) has been completed.  Also the structural work to bring the ticket booth out, add the transom windows, install the new doors (with cobra brass handles!) and display cases is done.

What remains is the construction of the new canopy/awning (engineering design by KPFF is already complete), the fabrication of the Egyptian decorative frames for the display cases and fire exit doors, the refurbishment of the pylon sign, the mounting of the new main marquee (fabrication has been ordered), and the upper story Egyptian motif painting.

Fundraising continues, primarily for the $120,000 required to construct the new awning/canopy.  With the $45,000 we have already received from various foundations since 2015 started, we are well on our way.  An application to the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust is pending.  If we receive the $100,000 grant we requested, we’ll be “over the top” and hope to have the exterior restoration completely finished by the end of this summer — in time for November’s 90 year anniversary of the original opening of the Egyptian Theatre.

We really appreciate Restore Oregon’s strong support over the years — including your personal letter to the editor of The World recognizing our accomplishment when we celebrated our Grand Re-Opening last June.

, , ,

Comments are closed.

Statewide Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation