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The Plan to Replace Uptown Theater Sign Moves Forward, But It Won’t Look Much Different

by Nena Perry-Brown

The Plan to Replace Uptown Theater Sign Moves Forward, But It Won't Look Much Different: Figure 1
The Uptown Theatre.

A year ago, movie theater company AMC stirred up "an outpouring of concern" after filing an application with the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to replace the iconic Uptown sign at the movie theater at 3426 Connecticut Avenue NW (map) with an AMC sign. The application was withdrawn shortly thereafter.

The Plan to Replace Uptown Theater Sign Moves Forward, But It Won't Look Much Different: Figure 2
Originally-proposed alteration.

Now, a slightly different proposal will soon be considered that retains the landmark "Uptown" look, but fret not, purists — Historic Preservation Office staff isn't necessarily more enthusiastic.

The Plan to Replace Uptown Theater Sign Moves Forward, But It Won't Look Much Different: Figure 3
Currently proposed signage. Click to enlarge.
The Plan to Replace Uptown Theater Sign Moves Forward, But It Won't Look Much Different: Figure 4
Existing conditions. Click to enlarge.

The current application is to replace the original neon "Uptown" sign with a replica LED lighting sign. A smaller LED "AMC" sign would also be added to the marquee beneath the "Uptown" sign, as well as atop the perpendicular edges of the marquee.

This plan will be considered at this week's HPRB meeting, but HPO staff is already recommending that the board not grant approval to replace the neon sign with LED at this point. "The regulations encourage that such signs be repaired and reused where feasible," the staff report notes. "HPO has requested that the applicant provide documentation that the repair of the existing sign is not feasible and that replacement, rather than repair, is necessary."

As for the addition of an AMC sign to the center of the marquee, HPO also disapproves of this placement because it would "compete" with the "Uptown" sign. Constructed in 1936, the Uptown Theatre is in the Cleveland Park Historic District. 

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/the-plan-to-replace-uptown-theater-sign-moves-forward/14253

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