The Evening of March 7, 2013, Benetti’s Italian Restaurant graciously hosted a $500 a plate dinner to raise money for the Egyptian Theatre renovation. The upstairs dining room was filled with local citizens who are in full support of our money raising efforts to restore and reopen the Egyptian.
The money raising efforts began in earnest in October 2012 with the beginning of our Capital Campaign. The Egyptian Theatre Preservation Association has set the goal of raising $225,000 from the local community and $550,000 from grants. Raising the local money in a timely fashion is important because of the requirement of matching community funds and the demonstration of community support in order to qualify for many grants. This dinner, hosted by Joe and Tricia Benetti, provided a significant boost to the community funds raised thus far. The ETPA is grateful to the Benetti’s for their continuing and ongoing support of the Egyptian.
The tables were set in a festive manner. The dinner, comprising five courses, delighted the taste buds of the guests. Take a look at Benetti’s Italian Restaurant Facebook page if you want to see what was served. The hosts, Joe and Tricia Benetti, greeted all their guests as they arrived upstairs.
The guests were taken care of by the skilled wait staff made up of Tonya and Kevin Mason and Keeandra Rodriguez. Lovely dinner music was provided by Deborah McAndrew on the flute and Claire Mohr on the viola. Entertainment was also provided by the North Bend High School Jazz Choir directed by Ken Graber. They sang three numbers including Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five”. Most of us didn’t know that “Take Five” had words!
George Kramer, Historic Restoration Consultant, and Rodger Craddock, Coos Bay City Manager, chatting before dinner. George’s firm gave us hope that we could pull off the restoration when he told us we could do it for much less than the initial engineering report of $3.7 million. Thank you for all your work George!
George gave a most interesting talk after dinner about the development of the nation’s Egyptian Theaters. Here are some of his remarks:
“One Moment in Time, Make it Shine!”
“Of 35 Egyptian theaters built in the United States during the years after the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, thirteen are still in operation. (Currently we are not among them.) They were all built between 1922 and 1925. Thirteen of them were built on the West Coast (California, Oregon and Washington). Of those 13, there is one that is open and showing movies – the Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, in L.A. with its Steven Spielberg Theater and location on Hollywood Boulevard.
That theater was built at a cost of $800,000 in 1922 when the city’s population was over one million. It was renovated at a cost of $15 million in 1998 when the population of L.A. had grown to 9.5 million. However, the interior renovation did not retain the original design, maintaining only its “sunburst” ceiling.
The Egyptian Theatre in Coos Bay was built in 1924, relying upon an existing structure, a parking garage. It cost $200,000 at a time when Marshfield’s population was about 4,500. It will be renovated over the next few years at a cost of less than $1 million to get it open with a population in Coos Bay/North Bend of around 25,000.
Nobody on the West Coast, nobody but Coos Bay, has a virtually unchanged example of an Egyptian theater, built in the glory days of the form, just two years after King Tut was found, and protected for all these years.
Of the 13 that were once on the West Coast, only two survive. You should be proud of yourselves that your city, and your community, and each of you, had the vision and foresight to appreciate that.
With the single exception of Grauman’s Egyptian in L.A. and its location on Hollywood Blvd, EVERY OTHER EGYPTIAN THEATER EVER BUILT ON THE WEST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES… EVERY ONE HAS BEEN DEMOLISHED.
EXCEPT YOURS. Congratulations, Coos Bay.”
Capital Campaign Coordinator and ETPA Board Member, Bob More, gave a slide presentation about the Egyptian and how fund raising is going to this point. We have actually raised about 60% of the needed community funds since October. We really hope to raise the remainder by the end of April so that the city can put contracts out for bid. If you have ever considered donating and haven’t done so yet, this is the best time to do it.
Many people do not realize the treasures that the Egyptian contains, such as the vaudeville theatre drops which are still all intact and quite usable. If you attended any live events after the ETPA took over operations, you have probably seen some of these drops.
Jim Clark of Oregon Pacific Bank presented a $5,000 check from the bank to Campaign Coordinator Bob More. Business contributions and personal contributions are equally important to the success of the fund drive. A silent auction was also held at the dinner to raise additional funds.
And a big thank you goes out to all of the evening’s attendees. Here are some of the guests:
Photo 1: Barbara Rueger & Michael Gordon; Photo 2: Retired State Senator Joanne Verger; Photo 3: Carl Siminow & Bill Richardson;
Photo 4: George Kramer, Philippa Benson, Ray Duskin; Photo 5: Greg Rueger, ETPA Board President, Rachele Henke, Senator Verger
Photo 6: Helen Doving, Jon Littlefield, Dr. Gerry Miller; Photo 7: Steve & Jan Hooper with Mayor Crystal Shoji; Photo 8: Rachel and Joe Henke; Photo 9: Board members Helen Doving and Lee Littlefield; Photo 10: The Party
And on your way out, toss a coin, make a wish and plan on coming to the
Grand Reopening of the Egyptian Theatre in 2014!