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Work Begins on Capitol Theatre Marquee in Pittsfield
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:00AM / Monday, July 09, 2018
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Work is under way to shore up and refurbish the marquee at the senior center.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Restoration of the Capitol Theater marquee has begun.
 
Larochelle Construction Co Inc. has started the preliminary work on the historic marquee. The front entrance is roped off, the structure is being shored up and exterior parts are being removed to be sent out for refurbishment. The structural work will happen shortly after that.
 
The project is part of the city's capital plan and is costing $249,900. That is an increase from what was previously expected but after the bids came in too high, the City Council upped its authorization to cover the difference.
 
"In my opinion, the marquee is a jewel," Ward 7 City Councilor Anthony Simonelli said at the time.
 
The City Council had pushed for the project and initially approved $150,000. But Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer said there was more lead paint removal than initially thought. The city had previously done similar projects without the lead paint removal and it didn't work out too well. 
 
In total, the council authorized $223,500 for the work and $50,000 is being added from the federal Community Development Block Grant program. That gives the city enough funds for the design, construction, and a little extra just in case.
 
The Council on Aging hailed the decision and held a ceremonial ribbon cutting when it celebrated its 25th year in the building, which is now the Ralph Froio Senior Center.
 
The marquee of the former theater is in poor condition after water damage has taken its toll over the years. It will have to be removed, new steel installed and rewired.
 
It dates back to 1928 and Director of Building Maintenance Brian Filiault had previously voiced concern that it would eventually fall down. The council then decided to restore it rather than removing it.
 
The building was built in 1898 as the New Mills Block, which later became the home of Capitol Theater movie house. According to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, the marquee is 1922 art deco style. The theater closed in the 1980s and the building was turned into the senior center. 
 
The restoration work is contracted to be completed by the end of April 2019.
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