Not long ago the Highland County Historical Society announced plans to save and restore old reliefs from the Colony Theatre in Hillsboro before most of it is demolished. Now the society has found more theatre memorabilia that it’s selling to raise money for the mural restoration project.
During the restoration project, historical society member John Kellis said interesting items were saved like the Chakeres Theater letters that rested over the doorways, grates, and art deco items that adorned the theater. Another item saved was a number of large 11-inch tall steel letters that are enamel covered. They were used to announce upcoming events on the Colony’s original marquee.
The original marquee was replaced by the current marquee many years ago.
“The group felt that many people that attended the Colony would be interested in having a keepsake from those days,” Kellis said. “The letters are being cleaned and prepared for sale at the Highland House Museum shop. Interest is pretty high, but the cost of cleaning these letters alone is more than the $10 charge being asked for each letter. Some letters are close to becoming exhausted and all sales are on a first-come, first-served basis.”
The cost of the letters have been set at, and will remain, $10 per letter, Kellis said. But he also said the project costs are substantial and that the society would like to let the public know that one way to help is to make an additional donation to the Colony Theater Mural Restoration Project.
“Anything given over and above the $10 cost of the letters should be noted as a donation to the mural project,” Kellis said. “Those extra donations are tax-deductible and will help restore the murals and cover the society’s costs. Many have jumped on the opportunity to own one or more of these letters from Facebook posts and by word of mouth. Whether you have already secured your letters or whether you are planning to do so, please consider a donation to the project.”
The letters are available at the Highland House Museum Gift Shop, 151 E. Main St., Hillsboro. The museum and shop are open from 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Donations can be sent to: Colony Mural Restoration Project, ℅ Highland County Historical Society, 151 E. Main St., Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.
“The project to save the reliefs and store them until they can hopefully be fully restored in buildings around the community is so far a resounding success. Many have expressed their appreciation for the extensive effort to save these reliefs that depict all the human civilizations through time,” Kellis said.
When discussions about razing the Colony Theatre became more than a rumor, local artist and historical society member Avery Applegate asked the society’s trustees for permission to represent the society with city officials. Applegate was there when engineers and city officials toured the facility and agreed it would cost more than anyone was willing to pay to renovate it, Kellis said. That’s when talks about saving the facade began.
“Those discussions led to a laborious project to save items in the theater, including the iconic reliefs, before any demolition took place,” Kellis said. “The society and the community at-large is indebted to Avery’s foresight and effort. The planning led to another ambitious effort to save the murals that hovered over those who attended a movie or event at the Colony. Avery asked a few other society board members – Jim Rooney, Tim Koehl and myself – to assist her, and the group set out to carefully remove the murals and their wooden frames. Those items have been securely packed away.”
Now the society is looking for new homes for other Colony Theatre keepsakes.
“Come in and get your memento and help us see this project to its conclusion,” Kellis said. “The gift shop is stocked full of other books, prints, memorabilia, and other historic items. The holiday season will soon be upon us and that is when the consignment booths go up in the museum. Stop in and enjoy your museum.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.