|Artist's rendering (Scott Baumberger)|
After a COVID-19-related delay for 15 months, officials restoring the Hollywood Theatre in Northeast Portland are getting ready – again – to start restoration of the pedestrian-level façade.
Yet another surprise was found in what architect Paul Falsetto called the large barrel arch on the façade that is partially covered by the Hollywood marquee. Colorful terra cotta decorations thought to have been lost in the arch turned out to be largely intact when subsequent screening was removed.
|Historic view (Hollywood Theatre)|
"I'm related elated about these discoveries," said Virginia Durost, the Hollywood facilities director. “We’ve gotten to see what was under there before we start.” She said the original building was “designed as one cohesive whole,” but was "cut off at the knees" by subsequent remodels at the ground level. The new project will not be an exact replica of the original, but it will be close enough to make the building stand as a unified architectural statement. “The whole design will come down to the ground,” Durost said.
An element that will not be replaced is the freestanding octagonal ticket booth that originally stood close to the Sandy Boulevard sidewalk. However, its shape and location will be recognized on the ground in the entryway.
In a Zoom meeting, Falsetto said the lower façade improvements will restore the original symmetry, although not all of the detailing will be identical. Stacks of what look like blocks, called quoins in architectural lingo, will define the east and west edges of the lower façade, and lighted poster cases will be set off against sleek porcelain bricks.
The firm of John Virginius Bennes and Harry Herzog did the original design. The two men were partners for nine years, during which they designed two other theaters that no longer exist. Bennes is best known for several buildings he designed on the campus of Oregon State University that are included in a national historic district; Herzog also worked on Temple Beth Israel, another of the city’s most notable structures.
The glitzy façade of the Hollywood Theatre is one of the best-known in Portland. Falsetto said the main entrance was angled along Sandy Boulevard – a street that cuts through Northeast Portland on a diagonal -- so that it is especially visible to traffic heading east on Sandy, another reason for the building’s prominence.
Besides its devotion to showing new and old movies, the nonprofit deserves high regard for its careful persistence in restoring a magnificent architectural treasure.
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