Monday Escape: Urbana Cinema Marquee

Last autumn, Hubby and I decided to take a day off and go on a jaunt about the Ohio countryside. One of the places we rolled into was Urbana, Ohio—where we found a handsome 1940s movie theatre, complete with marquee!

 Urbana 2 Cinema marquee, Urbana, Ohio. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

As I always say…Being only 5′ tall has its advantages in photography. 😉 And since it is not only a Monday, but a rather dreary one here, I’ll give you a colour shot of the whole theatre and a colour close-up of the fabulous bulb-and-neon combination:

Urbana 2 Cinema marquee, Urbana, Ohio. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Opening on Christmas Day, 1941—using the remaining walls of the Clifford Theatre, which had burned down—the Urbana Cinema was originally named Gloria Theatre, after the owner’s daughter. At the time, new cars were shown off in the theatre’s handsome Art Deco lobby, and advertisements bragged about not only the air-conditioning and chandeliers but a powder room with “mirrors and a dressing bar” for ladies desiring to “adjust their makeup in private”. Oh, I’d love to have seen that! Even better, the Gloria’s theatre featured two enormous murals that glowed in the dark, beneath black lights, on the walls.

At some point in the late 1960s, the Urbana was twinned and re-named Urbana Cinema.

Unfortunately, I didn’t sneak in to see what remains of Urbana Neon, Urbana Cinema. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.all this 1940s Art Deco wonderfulness (we were nearing the point at which poor Ben back home was probably crossing his legs together, if you get my drift, and had to head back), but perhaps next time.

Urbana is not a big town—it’s one of many anchors in one of Ohio’s many agricultural regions (well, okay, pretty much the entire state); the owners of the Urbana deserve props for keeping the marquee around. So often these things are junked, as  may have almost happened with the Carlyle’s neon in Oklahoma, because they’re rusting or simply expensive to maintain. But look at my photo of the Urbana 2 above and try to imagine it without the colourful marquee; it wouldn’t be the same, and denuding the building in that way would seem almost criminal. So, when you can, please patronize the businesses with their grand old neon out front. Such wonderful and distinctly American (such flash!) things aren’t cheap to maintain.

Have a great Monday!

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