The history of North Coast theater runs deep in Julie Weber's family.

The 63-year-old is the daughter of the late Fran and Curt Hoare, who were part-owners of the Riviera Theater (now the Columbian). And her aunt, Julia Williams, and uncle John "Jack" Williams, owned the Ilwaco Theater along with the Sunset Theater in Long Beach, Wash.

"I had been looking for ways to honor my family," she said.

Weber found such an opportunity at the Liberty Theater.

Supporters of the theater's restoration effort have held a seat-naming campaign to raise funds for the venue's newly installed seats.

Called, "Take a Seat," the campaign allows individuals or businesses to sponsor a seat and have a permanent, engraved nameplate affixed to its arm. Seats can be sponsored by donor name, the name of a friend or family, or as a memorial to a loved one.

Weber found out about the campaign while touring the theater, and now, two seats in the 667-seat theater will pay tribute to her family and its links to local theater history.

Weber's parents, along with her aunt and uncle, bought the Sunset and Ilwaco movie theaters during the late 1920s. Her parents later sold their share in the business to purchase a stake in the Riviera in 1933. They ran the Riviera, which today operates as the Columbian Theater, until the mid-1950s.

The two nameplates on the seats will contain their names, along with the inscription, "your competitors." Weber said she hopes the playful reference will be understood by community members who were around for the golden age of cinema.

Liberty Restoration Inc. leaders hope to have all of the theater's seats sponsored. Seat campaign coordinator Carol Gearin said 302 seats have been sponsored so far, including all of the box seats.

Gearin said many people have joined together to sponsor a seat. Payment terms are available for those who want to contribute over a one-year period. A $1,000 contribution sponsors an individual seat. LRI board member Eric Paulson chairs a fund-raising committee that will begin this weekend a new round of solicitations for naming seats.

"We want people who want to be a part of this to be able to participate," Gearin said. "If we can make it happen, we will."


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