by kim farrell Staff writer
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held for the newly restored 1939 ticket booth at the Capitol Theatre at 1:30 p.m., Saturday.
The booth is back in its original location outside the front doors of the theater at 220 W. Dominick St., and tickets for the 2:30 Saturday showing of the 1946 Christmas classic, "It’s a Wonderful Life," will on sale. One patron will get the opportunity to purchase the first ticket from the newly-restored booth.
Anyone who worked as a ticket seller at the Capitol during the years the booth was in use (1939-1974) is invited to attend the ceremony. The public is also welcome. Refreshments will be served.
Funding to restore the booth was donated by Larry and Missy Goetz, in memory of Caltha Staples Goetz, a long-time Capitol volunteer and supporter. A volunteer work crew consisting of Fred Normand, Carl Sturtevant and John Parker, Jr. have been working on booth’s reconstruction since 2008.
Having fallen into a dilapidated state, the fixture was removed in 2003 and put in storage. "It was like a jigsaw puzzle in several hundred pieces," Normand said of the state of the booth when he received it. "Some of the pieces were numbered and some were not."
The crew had to figure out where many of the parts went, and pieces that were beyond reuse had to be reconstructed. The glass counter tops inside the booth could not be saved, Normand said. He search for a plastic that resembled the original glass and used that for the new counters. Much of the Vitrolite (the marbled decorative glass used on the exterior of the booth) is original, as is most of the hardware. Molding around the windows was also beyond use, so Normand said that his search for new gaskets and framing took him all the way to England, via the internet. The gaskets were shipped to Rome by a British company.
Normand got involved in the ticket booth project through his membership on the Capitol Theater Board of Directors. He said that he and Sturtevant and Parker have worked together for years as handymen for various groups, and Normand offered their services to the Capitol board. Also a member of the Rome Community Theater, Normand said he asked the theater in the Town of Lee if he could use their shop area to work on the booth. Since September 2008, the three men have met at the shop on Wednesday mornings to work on the reconstruction of the booth.
Normand said that he is not sure of the total cost of the renovation work, but he figures it to be several hundred dollars. Several local vendors provided materials for the project, including Bob’s Glass Service, Parsons Sheet Metal, and Delta Lumber. A group of volunteers from the Capitol, including Douglas Swarthout, Ray Tucker, Wes Hughes, and members of the work crew, transported and installed the new fixture.