Rodgers Theatre marquee grant

Julie R. Johnson/Corning Observer

A $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the North State funded repairs to the Rodgers Theatre marquee last week.

The marquee at Rodgers Theatre on Solano Street in Corning was broken and in much need of repair. Thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the North State, the marquee got fixed last week.

Corning was one of eight $1,000 grants awarded by the Foundation to performing arts venues and groups in Tehama, Shasta and Siskiyou counties in honor of their safe re-openings anticipated this summer. Within Tehama County, the other recipient of a grant was the State Theater for the Arts in Red Bluff.

“COVID has been devastating to the performing arts, with theaters being unable to host music, dance, and theatrical productions in their indoor venues. The economic toll from lack of ticket sales filters through our communities, affecting individual artists, restaurants, and vendors,” said Kerry Caranci, CEO of Community Foundation of the North State.

While the City owns the theatre, it has been the Corning Community Foundation which has spearheaded the threater's renovation projects.

Tony Cardenas, a member of the foundation, said when the city received the grant, city staff consulted with the foundation on how to spend the funds.

“We decided the best use was to fix the west side of theater's marquee which had been damaged,” he said. “We will also use the funds to put new panels on the east side of the marquee.”

The foundation is hoping to eventually replace the marquee's neon lights with LED lights that look like neon, Cardenas added.

“That will be very an expensive project, but we can't find companies that work with neon lighting anymore,” he said. “We are continually looking for grants to fund the project.”

Rodgers Theatre, which is once again open for use by the community, was built and dedicated in 1935 with all the fashion of the era’s grandeur. The theater was owned by the Rodgers family, which had established the business in 1917 during the silent film era. At that time the movies were shown on the second floor of the Maywood Opera House.

In 1991 the theater was endowed to the city by Daniel and Wealthy Rodgers, along with $50,000 for upkeep.

Over the years the theater has been a mainstay of entertainment for the city’s residents, featuring many premiere-night movies such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

Every year around Christmastime it would open for the community’s children to come watch a movie free-of-charge and enjoy a visit from Santa Claus (that tradition has once again been a welcome event for the community).

Time took its toll and the theater became in need of major repairs. The required repairs were much more costly than the $50,000 could cover, so the city had to shut the icon down until funding could be raised.

In 2006 the theatre was closed by the city due to deficiencies in the facility.

Since then, with the help of hundreds of hours in volunteer work, thousands of dollars in donations, supplies and equipment, the theatre has undergone a transformation into an up-to-date facility that can be utilized by the community as much more than a movie theater.

Renovations include a roof replacement, reconstructed restrooms, loge seating, installation of heating and air conditioning units, rehabilitation of the theater's floor, lighting and sound system, new tile on the front of the theater, purchase of a new HD movie projector, new snackbar, chairs and tables, and more.

“We hope the community will use this building for many years to come,” Cardenas said. “Its doors are open and we hope to see music, dance, plays, meetings, dinners, movies and other events take place under its roof.”

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