Feb. 12, 2019 – West Allis, WI – It felt similar to visiting an old friend in the hospital. The good thing to note is the historic West Bend Theatre sign is in good hands.
This week Cindy Wendland at Poblocki Sign Company in West Allis opened its workshop for a look at the progress being made on the historic West Bend Theatre sign.
Project manager Mike Carter gave an update on how metal reinforcements have been added, wiring stripped and holes patched. “Essentially we’re refurbishing the entire sign,” said Carter. “We’ve torn out the electrical and we’re replacing it with high-efficiency LED bulbs and the structure that holds the sign is being rebuilt because of the age of it.”
The iconic theatre, 125 S. Main Street, dates to 1929.
The new frame for the sign, which includes a series of metal cross braces, was resting on saw horses at the foot of the vintage marquee.
“This will essentially attach to the back,” said Carter. “The framing had deteriorated and needed to be replaced.”
Carter indicated although the sign was weathered it was extremely well built. “It’s an interesting construction. They don’t make them like this anymore,” he said.
The points of weakness where the sign attached to the metal braces on the theatre building also had to be reinforced.
Veteran journeyman Bob Poblocki has spent 38 years in the sign business. During a conversation with his uncle he found out his grandfather, who started Poblocki Sign Company LLC, actually worked for the company that originally built the West Bend Theatre sign.
“The sign used to have old incandescence bulbs,” said Poblocki. “We’ll come in with new drivers and LED bulbs. It will look like the old bulbs but they will be high efficiency.”
After a bit of a review regarding rust and repair the conversation went a bit Jurassic Park with some Indiana Jones flare.
“There was a lot of spiders in the wiring; big ones,” said Poblocki. “We found some hornets nests… petrified ones, like they had been there for decades.”
The new sign will return its ability for chase lighting. “It’s where they wire every fourth bulb in a series and it will do that again,” said Poblocki. Chase lighting is an illusion where lights give the appearance of “moving along on a string.”
Coming up in the next couple of weeks the paint will be matched, the sign sandblasted and painted, electronics reinstalled and the I-beams coming off the theatre wall on S. Main Street will be inspected.
Poblocki said the I-beams coming off the theatre building will be inspected and the canopy will be stripped as Poblocki Sign Company puts new sides on the face along with new lighting.
“Our current plans to reinstall are now looking at April but it depends on the theatre plans,” said Carter.
Click HERE for the video on when the West Bend Theatre sign was removed from the side of the building in December 2018.