(Re)born Under A Bad Sign?

A digital sign added to a downtown Sioux Falls landmark theater is raising eyebrows. 

Photo: Joe Ahlquist / The Argus Leader via AP

Some city residents like the addition to the State Theatre and think it will get people’s attention, the Argus Leader reported. For others it raises questions about the priorities of the group restoring the building.

“That is not historical,” said Miranda Jamison, a Sioux Falls resident. “If they’re trying to do that, then they’re not going the right direction.”

Jim Mathis, owner of a downtown business, said the previous marquee was significant to the theater’s history.

“Tacking a digital billboard onto it is in no way in consort with what the feeling was in that old building,” Mathis said. The nonprofit State Theatre Co. maintains it’s remaining true to the theater’s history as workers try to match the original artwork and design.

“We feel this message board was a necessary change to communicate effectively,” said John Swedeen, board president. The group has raised millions of dollars to spruce up the building’s interior, but there was little evidence of work going on indoors.

Swedeen said the sign is a way for the organization to show it’s making progress.

“This is palpable evidence,” said Swedeen, who spent $25,000 of his own money to help pay the sign’s $52,000 cost. “All the plumbing, all the electrical, that’s a big deal. But you don’t see that.”

The city’s Board of Historic Preservation earlier approved the digital sign for the theater that dates to 1926. There isn’t a deadline set for the theater’s opening.