In today’s teapot tempest department, Patrick Anderson finds some people who like and some people who don’t like the new $52,000 digital signs installed on the historic State Theatre downtown. “It’s not historical,” says one woman in the street… but then neither was the 1947 plastic letter board that the digital signs have replaced. The digital displays don’t fit “with what the feeling was in that old building,” says a downtown business neighbor, even though the Sioux Falls Board of Historic Preservation unanimously approved the signs at its June 8 meeting.
The outdoor digital displays are no more of a deviation from the building’s history than the digital projection equipment that will splash movies onto the restored big screen inside… someday. State Theatre management will do business with cell phones, not dial phones with calls patched by the Ma Bell operator. Ushers will show us to our seats with LED flashlights, not candles.
If DeLon Mork had had a million dollars to save the old Masonic Temple in Madison and turn it into a community cultural center, I would not have begrudged him and up-to-date Daktronics board on the front of the building to advertise the art classes, string quartet performances, and Saturday sockhops we’d have hosted there.
A hundred years from now, someone downtown stroller will grumble about the new holographic movie previews playing on the sidewalk in front of the State Theatre. “Why can’t they restore those beautiful antique Daktronics signs that that nice pilot kissed me under when they announced the end of the Trump Civil War? And while they’re at it, bring back those lovely clicky keyboards the office staff used to enter the display information instead of these new-fangled telepathic readers?”
The signs are up. The State Theatre people can now use them to grab attention, promote the project, and make the final push to light up that screen and turn that old building back into a functioning cultural hub downtown.