Lighting ceremony set for October 8The 1920s were banner years for Astoria landmarks.

High atop Coxcomb Hill, workers put the finishing touches on the Astoria Column in 1926, and in downtown Astoria, the Liberty Theater had opened its doors in 1925. Now, just like the Column, which has been restored and refurbished over the last few years, the theater is being returned to its former glory through the efforts of a dedicated nonprofit group, in this case Liberty Restoration Inc.

The latest step in the restoration process for the Liberty happened Friday, when a historic replica of the ornate metal and glass canopy that marked the entrance to the theater was installed. It replaces the original canopy, which was removed in 1949 to make way for a white, box-style marquee with changeable black letters that spelled out the titles of feature films.

On Friday, a crew from Rickenbach Construction, contractors for the entire Liberty Theater renovation project, lifted the 9,000-pound stainless steel canopy frame with a crane and bolted it permanently to the front of the theater. The canopy, shaped like a half dome and painted forest green, was designed by SRG Partnership Inc., a Portland architectural and planning firm.

The frame was fabricated by Sopko Welding of Seaside, then sent of Portland where the sheet metal and lighting were installed by George King & Associates, the firm that restored the theater's chandelier.

King also cast crown molding and finials out of epoxy to replicate the originals. Those architectural details will be installed Sept. 20, Rickenbach said, along with capital letters painted reflective gold with a black border that spell out "Liberty Theater" along the lower edge of the canopy. A series of small, clear glass lightbulbs, called Tivoli lights, will be installed underneath the front ring of the canopy that day, he said.

In the meantime, Kiwi Glass Inc. of Seaside will start glazing and installing glass between the ribs of the canopy this week. The glass, custom made for the project by a Seattle firm, is a sand-blasted replica of the old chicken wire glass used in the original canopy. Both Kiwi and Sopko provided their services at a discount, said Jared Rickenbach. He said the cost of the canopy replica, not including design fees, is $165,000.

A canopy lighting celebration is planned for the evening of Oct. 8.


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