History and details about the Princess Theatre and its neon sign.
Theatres had to attract attention, not only to the building but also to the weekly features, and the Princess Theatre was no exception. Large signs and many lights were definite attention-grabbers. In addition to the horizontally-oriented marquee, a vertical lit sign was added to the Princess Theatre in the 1940s. This original sign was done in an Art Deco style and was relatively short-lived as it was removed from the building on March 10, 1954.
Prominent Strathcona businessman J.W. McKernan, who already operated two “photo-play” theatres on the south side, built the Princess Theatre between 1914 and 1915. It was designed by the architectural firm of Wilson and Herrald and constructed by Brown and Hargraves.
“Except for the name set in tiles and the copper cornice, the whole front of the three storey building will be of marble,” the Edmonton Bulletin reported. “It will be the only marble front building west of Winnipeg.”
The outbreak of the First World War and the resulting shortages of labour and materials postponed the opening until March 1915, despite the declaration on the date stone above the entrance, which indicates that the opening occurred in 1914.
The Princess Theatre closed in 1958 in the face of competition from television and other new entertainment opportunities. The Princess Theatre was purchased by Towne Cinemas in 1970 and then given a “facelift” before re-opening as the Klondike Cinema. The Princess was purchased by the Old Strathcona Foundation and was restored and re-opened in 1978 as a repertoire theatre.
The original sign is owned by the City of Edmonton. However, its condition did not lend itself to appropriate restoration for the Museum. The sign showcased in the Museum is a replica sign.
This sign was donated by: The City of Edmonton
This sign was generously replicated by: Skyline Sign Services Ltd.