And to think that you saw it on Mulberry Street – Our new marquee

And to think that you saw it on Mulberry Street – Our new marquee 236 354 Julia Rubens

Welcome to 2020! At The Grand, we ended the decade with a show of lights, just as Macon got ready to light up downtown for the Christmas Lights Festival. After a year of our marquee sitting dark, we were able to install a new marquee that was bigger and better than ever. This is thanks to a group of generous community donors, businesses, and nonprofits that helped to make it happen.

The history of the marquee is really interesting. Over time, several different marquees have been installed, and sometimes there has been none at all. However, without the marquee, the “grand” presence of the theater inside gets lost in the frontage of the building. Look at this photo above without the — it’s hard to tell what’s inside.

A passersby may not be able to envision the beautiful performance space that awaits without a marquee. But the actual aesthetic of the marquee has changed over the years. The lively and colorful nature of the marquee has caught the attention of passersby as a major attraction in downtown Macon. Here’s a few of our marquees over time:

Eventually, technology evolved enough to have the vibrant screen we have today, which is capable of motion and video:

At night, the marquee is a beacon to The Grand


The most recent marquee iteration before it shut down

The marquee we just installed is different from others in several ways. One of these is that it has cloud-based software, meaning it can be updated anytime, anywhere through the Internet. Our old system had to be updated through a single stationary computer in The Grand’s offices. This marquee can show different content across the three panels, running simultaneous video and animations. Most importantly for the longevity of The Grand, the new marquee has a long parts and labor warranty, which means that if something goes dark, the staff won’t have to scramble. Installing it took a few days and included a fascinating look behind the marquee panel…

Wires and trusses abound

Truth be told, we were only able to make this happen because of incredible donors that managed to raise a six-figure sum for the project. These passionate community members and businesses have ensured that the lights will continue to shine on Mulberry Street and bring attention and awareness to our work in the theatre inside. To honor our donors, we’ve been featuring their names on the marquee. Check it out:

We love hearing stories and seeing photos from our patrons enjoying their night out. Now that we have the marquee back up, The Grand Opera House would love to see your photos taken in front of the show signs. We’re offering a prize once a month and featuring submissions from patrons on our blog in our “Send Us Your Selfies” campaign if you tag @thegrandmacon on Instagram or Twitter or Grand Opera House on Facebook. Hope to hear from you!

Telegraph Renovation Article

Telegraph Renovation Article 4856 3237 Sarah Webster

Original Article


June 21, 2018 03:44 PM

Updated June 21, 2018 04:49 PM

The Grand Opera House in downtown Macon is undergoing major renovations.

“Look at it now because this is the last time you’ll see it as a junk room,” said Gram Slaton, executive director of The Grand Opera House, as he stood in an empty room located just left of the building’s entrance.

The “junk room” has been used for different purposes since 1904, from storefronts to county offices, but has been closed off to the public and used by The Grand Opera House as storage for years.

Now, the room will be put to use as a reception area. Slaton said the space will be rented out to the public for different events such as meetings and birthday parties.

The Grand Opera House received about $1 million in special purpose local option sales tax money to transform the room. The renovations also include doubling the size of the lobby space and restrooms, new video monitors, a second bar and installation of windows. This is part of the second phase of renovations at The Grand.

The renovations are expected to be completed by Oct. 12.

Phase one took place last summer with the installation of new carpet and seating, a new heating and air conditioning system and a new loading dock and dock elevator.

The Grand Opera House seats 1,030 people and is used for a variety of events such as concerts and plays, and it is rented to the public for private gatherings including weddings, receptions and award ceremonies.

Last year, Slaton told The Telegraph that the new improvements will allow the theater to have a longer season as well as draw in a bigger audience. Now that the first phase of renovations is done, The Grand did not see the boost in attendees that it hoped for.

“It always takes a season to transition people,” he said recently.

Slaton said the theater lost business because it was closed for renovations last summer. However, it has already seen an increase in bookings for the season that is to begin in October.

Phases one and two of The Grand Opera House renovations were both funded by the SPLOST, which provided a total of $2.9 million for the rehab.

County Commissioner Larry Schlesinger said The Grand Opera House has been in need of these renovations for a long time and deserves the funding.

“This is the primary venue for Broadway shows and many concerts,” he said. “It is a jewel in this community.”

More renovations are planned in the future.

A $23,500 grant from the Fox Theatre Institute funded a historic assets study, which revealed information about the second balcony and its significance during the Jim Crow era, when it was last used, Slaton said. Restorations are planned to preserve the history of the balcony and make it functional for guests.

Due to the construction on the Bibb County Courthouse next to The Grand, Slaton said the restoration is not slated to begin for another six to eight years.

Schlesinger said he is not certain where the funding for the these of renovations will come from, but the second balcony will be done to the same standards of all other seating in the venue.