The 91-year-old Embassy Theatre in downtown Fort Wayne has a new look.

After months of fundraising, and major contributions from the community and supporters, Embassy representatives, city officials, and donors dedicated the new Watchfire exterior marquee/message board Jan. 13, adding a touch of sparkle to the ancient exterior.

Kelly Updike, president and CEO of The Embassy, Mayor Tom Henry, and special guests opened the dedication ceremony with praise for those who contributed to the $110,000 project. The new high-tech message board features high-resolution imagery including video and animation, as well as the ability to efficiently edit the messages.

“The Embassy is an iconic building that has been here for nearly 100 years,” Henry said. “It was originally designed to be a gathering place for our city. Thanks to the generosity of a few people, it will continue to be that for generations to come. To have something this nice in the city of Fort Wayne speaks volumes about the quality of life we have to offer in our community.”

The ceremony gave special credit to Robert and Pamela Bechert for their donation to the project.

The marquee received the upgrade right before Christmas. The organization had been having technical issues with the previous message board and worked to extend the life of the 17-year-old electronic signage.

The Baldus Company and L-A Electric were the primary local vendors on this project. L-A Electric provided their services as an in-kind donation.

The organization is still seeking additional donations to cover all costs. To help, contact Lucas Weick, chief philanthropy officer, at lucas@fwembassytheatre.org or at 260-424-6287.

No doubt, the Embassy Theatre has left its footprint in downtown Fort Wayne for decades, but not always under the same moniker. On May 14, 1928, the building was first established as a movie palace and vaudeville house called the Emboyd Theatre. After many years of use and then neglect, the building faced demolition until a handful of community leaders banded together to form The Embassy Theatre Foundation.

Throughout the decades the Embassy underwent major renovations including upgrading the seating to accommodate 2,471 guests and adding some significant improvements to the stage, and many areas of the building.

Today, the Embassy Theatre is Indiana’s largest self-sustaining historic theater. Over the years it featured some of the biggest stars of stage and screen. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a destination point in downtown Fort Wayne.

The Embassy Theatre is at 125 W. Jefferson Blvd., Fort Wayne. For more information visit fwembassytheatre.org.

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