Change in theater marquee causes drama in Blackfoot

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BLACKFOOT — Controversy was stirred up last week, when the Blackfoot Community Players made changes to the marquee that sits above the entrance of the theater.

A brightly lit digital marquee was installed on the historic building on Thursday, Dec. 14. The former neon “Nuart” signs, however, had not yet taken their rightful place above the marquee, which started the pot stirring. A large number of current and former residents took to Facebook, to air their frustrations about the new sign.

“Sorry, I don’t care for it,” said Chris Burkman in a comment on Facebook. “I like the old one better. It totally takes away the character of the building. I think it’s sad and it just doesn’t look right.”

Nuart Theatre in 1972. | Idaho State Historical Society

The controversy was tamed with the addition of the upgraded neon signs. The new LED-lit “Nuart” signs were added Friday night. Even more recently, the BCP has changed the look of the digital portion of the marquee from the big, bright letters on a black and red background to a white background and blue trim that resembles the former marquee.

“I am excited about it,” said Heather McPhie, director of the Junior Players. “Working around the snow to put the letters up was scary.”

Sharon Hoge explained in a Facebook post in a You grew up in Blackfoot if you remember page that the BCP has tried to repair the old marquee three times in the past and that it cost around $5,000.

“The panels behind the letters were often broken and yellowed with age and sunlight,” Hoge said. “After the last round of repairs, the neon part of the sign worked for only six months.”

Other changes coming to the Nuart, are new additions to the building and an air conditioning system.

The Nuart was built in 1929 by the Demordaunt family and was used as a silent movie theater. It was one of the first theaters in Idaho to run talking films. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

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