Visitors used to call the Ogdensburg Cinema to ask for directions, or hop on the Internet to do a search. But thanks to its new digital marquee installed this month, the cinema is now a noticeable anchor that illuminates the downtown district.
"It used to like you were at the end of tunnel at the intersection, but now the sign brightens up the whole end of the city," said owner Gilbert J. Jones, who purchased the theater in 1980.
The $73,000 marquee was backed by a $50,000 grant awarded by the state's Main Street grant program. The sign was purchased by Charles Signs of Liverpool, and construction was completed this month by Continental Construction of Gouverneur, which started the project in August.
Mr. Jones said he hopes the new marquee will attract young people and families to watch movies in the city instead of traveling to neighboring communities.
"We wanted to update the theater to make it profitable and keep it here in Ogdensburg," he said. "We think the young people in the community deserve a place to go."
In addition to the sign, the project new lighting will also be installed along the side of the theater's facade facing State Street, as well as four display cases that will showcase current films, he said. Those improvements are expected to be completed before Christmas.
Advertisements may be purchased by businesses to run on the sign, he said, and the cinemas will promote major community events for free. Revenue from advertising will help the theater purchase new sound systems and seating, he said, which are projects that he hopes to complete within the next year.
"The sign is a good start," he said, "but we plan to continue making improvements."
The cinema also had a new roof installed this month owing to damages, and it's now in the process of replacing its ventilation systems, he said. Those investments totaled $85,400.
Manager Debbie A. Polniak said that she that several customers have praised the new marquee, and some have said they now plan to only watch movies in Ogdensburg after noticing the investments that have been made. She said traffic at the cinema has markedly picked up since the sign went up
"A lot of people have told us the sign makes the area look more lively," she said, "and it's nice that people are noticing the investment and are willing to spend their money here. They probably went to restaurants in other communities before, and now they'll be staying here."
And with its radiant presence, she pointed out that the cinema can't be missed by visitors who come to Ogdensburg for the first time. She hopes that increased traffic at the theater will boost business at local restaurants and shops, too, which is the goal of the state's Main Street program.
"People will always know we're here when they drive down the street," she said.