OGDEN — A milestone has been reached in a large-scale renovation of one of Ogden’s most historic and recognizable buildings, but officials say there’s still plenty of work yet to be finished.
Earlier this week, crews installed a new exterior entrance marquee at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, 2415 Washington Blvd. The 24-foot vertical blade sign matches the sign that was on the building in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
The sign is part of an ambitious plan being executed by the Egyptian Theatre Foundation — a complete modernization of the 95-year-old community theater.
“This new marquee is the first major capital improvement project we identified,” said foundation president Rob Werner. “So we’re thrilled to have it finished.”
Formed in 1985, the foundation provides oversight on the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the Weber County-owned theater. The group focuses on fundraising initiatives for theater-related projects, intended to increase community participation and invite new audiences to the venue.
The group had previously replaced the theater’s horizontal marquee, installing a new digital version. The two projects combined cost about $100,000 to complete. Werner said several other capital projects are on the horizon, which include upgrading the theater’s seats, installing new lighting around the inside perimeter of the theater and replacing the building’s front doors.
“We’ve got several things we want to do and we’re going to tick them off one by one,” Werner said.
Werner said the foundation hopes to have those projects and a few others complete by the building’s centennial in 2024.
He said the foundation is exploring local, state and federal grants to fund projects, but also relies heavily on individual donations. Those interested in donating to the foundation should go to egyptiantheaterfoundation.org/. Potential donors can also have their names engraved on theater seat backs for $150 or $250, based on location in the theater. To purchase a seatback, call the theater at 801-689-8700 or go to the box office, which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“This theater is a beautiful community asset,” Werner said. “But it needs some upkeep. It needs some love.”
Designed by the famous Ogden architectural firm of Hodgson & McClenahan (the company also designed buildings like Ogden High School, the Ogden Municipal Building and the U.S. Forest Service Building), Peery’s first opened in 1924. According to the foundation’s website, the theater’s heyday ran from the arrival of “talking movies” in the late 1920s, and lasted through the 1950s.
As business declined on Washington Boulevard in the 1970s, so did action at the theater. Weber County officials ordered the theater closed in 1984 due to health code violations. A group of concerned Ogdenites formed to save the building shortly after it was closed. The group eventually became the foundation and spearheaded a multimillion dollar restoration of the theater that was completed in 1997.