Piece of history restored in Georgetown

The Georgetown Theater's neon sign, which had been taken down for restoration, was reinstalled Wednesday in its familiar place above Wisconsin Avenue. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The Georgetown Theater’s neon sign, which had been taken down for restoration, was reinstalled Wednesday in its familiar place above Wisconsin Avenue. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The sign won't be turned on until a lighting ceremony in September, but it will have the same familiar red neon glow that it had for decades. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The sign won’t be turned on until a lighting ceremony in September, but it will have the same familiar red neon glow that it had for decades. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Architect and building owner Robert Bell says now that the sign is back up, the next changes people might notice will involve the "coming soon" windows on either side of the entrance. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Architect and building owner Robert Bell says now that the sign is back up, the next changes people might notice will involve the “coming soon” windows on either side of the entrance. (WTOP/Michelle Basch) (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
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The Georgetown Theater's neon sign, which had been taken down for restoration, was reinstalled Wednesday in its familiar place above Wisconsin Avenue. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The sign won't be turned on until a lighting ceremony in September, but it will have the same familiar red neon glow that it had for decades. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Architect and building owner Robert Bell says now that the sign is back up, the next changes people might notice will involve the "coming soon" windows on either side of the entrance. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON — A longtime symbol of Georgetown that brings back fond memories for many is hanging once again above Wisconsin Avenue.

The Georgetown Theater stopped showing movies about three decades back, and in recent years the building sat vacant on Wisconsin Avenue at O Street.

Recently, the theater’s big vertical sign was taken down and completely restored by the same company that originally made it.

Wednesday, the iconic sign was reinstalled on the theater’s newly revealed white facade.

“It looks just like it did in 1945 when they put it up,” architect and building owner Robert Bell told WTOP.

Don’t expect the neon sign to glow until a lighting ceremony planned for Sept. 23, but when the switch is flipped the sign will look the same way it did for decades.

“Right now it’s black and white with a black background, but when we light it up, all the neon turns red.”

Bell is converting the theater into apartments, offices and maybe a restaurant.

“We’re excited for him to finish, and finally we get to see his creation,” said Taraneh Dadmarz, owner of English Rose Garden flower shop on O Street.

She said it’s just one of the good things that are happening in the neighborhood.

“A lot of wonderful businesses are coming in.”

One of those new arrivals is Crumbs & Whiskers on O Street, the city’s first and instantly popular cat cafe.

We spotted Grace Bateman, who lives right around the corner from the Georgetown Theater, snapping a picture of it.

“It’s been an eyesore for most of the 30 odd years that we’ve lived here, and now it’s going to be useful, it’s going to be beautiful, and I’m so happy they saved the sign.”

Bell said people walking or driving by might notice more changes in a few weeks.

“We’re going to do the two side windows, or the coming soon windows, in about 3 weeks.  And then maybe 6 weeks from now, 7 weeks from now, we’ll do all the front doors and entrances.”

He hopes to have the building ready for move-in around Christmas of this year.

“A Christmas present,” he added with a laugh.

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