Renovated Marquee Is Ready If Or When Drive-In Reopens

MINETTO, NY – Fulton businessman Mark Sherman was on the scene at the Midway Drive-In Theater Tuesday night but not for the reason he originally anticipated.

Renovated Midway Drive-In marquis for opening of 2000 season. (Courtesy Midway Drive-In webpage)
Renovated Midway Drive-In marquee for opening of 2000 season. (Courtesy Midway Drive-In webpage)

Sherman owns Letters Signs & Specialties, at 805 S. Fourth St., and he just completed the renovation of the historic landmark’s marquee.

“I was going to put it up probably tomorrow or Thursday,” the sign maker said on Tuesday (July 8).

When Sherman arrived he found the passing storm had shredded the 50 feet x 100 feet movie projection screen, effectively closing the theater on impact.

Mark Sherman, on right, views rear of damaged projection screen.
Mark Sherman, on right, views damaged projection screen.

“We came down last Wednesday and tore the roof off (the marquee base) and put the new roof on. That day I was walking out back, admiring how big and old the screen was,” Sherman said as he walked around the structure.

The lighted marquis is the sign that hails the nightly events and coming attractions along the roadside of Route 48 at the theater entrance.

It was redone in 2000 and re-installed after about 30 years in storage.

Faded sign before Sherman began renovations. (Photo courtesy Letters Signs & Specialties)
Faded sign before Sherman began renovations. (Photo courtesy Letters Signs & Specialties)

But within a short amount of time it started to fade, Sherman said. “It went from red to pink and from yellow to pale yellow. It was pretty faded out.”

The sign specialist noted that Midway Drive-In owner John Nagelschmidt remembered there was originally chrome rings around the circular drum where the sign says, ‘Midway’.

“I discovered that the chrome rings weren’t missing, they were there, just painted over,” Sherman said.

Original stainless steel rings were hiding under a layer of paint.
Original stainless steel rings were hiding under a layer of paint.

After stripping the paint he realized the rings were stainless steel and he was able to save them, so in the renovated piece they once again shine through.

“Now it’s all redone – everything is painted, there’s no vinyl at all,” Sherman noted. “I was getting ready to apply the clear coat (Tuesday night) … when everybody started calling me and texting me at the shop.”

With area roads blocked due to fallen trees and downed power lines Sherman headed to the theater to see for himself what happened.

“It made me sick when I got here,” he said.

While it will be a few days before the theater owner knows what course of action to take, Sherman encouraged him to bring the sign out as scheduled.

Only minutes after the storm had passed, and with his next moves yet to be determined, Nagelschmidt said he would prefer to keep the restored marquee inside for the time being, where it’s safe.

The restored drum and sign are ready to be re-installed.
The restored drum and sign are ready to be re-installed.

10488242_727666807293587_8926058105712149664_n“Well, we can save it for the grand re-opening then,” Sherman said.


  1. I wonder if you meant a “renovated marquee”?? I always thought a “marquis” was some kind of a titled person, perhaps in England, and a “marquee” was an outside sign for a theatrical or entertainment location. Please use a dictionary instead of Spellcheck–it’s more accurate.

    Sure hope the drive-in opens again. I especially remember seeing “Aladdin” there during a thunderstorm–made the villain even more scary!!

  2. well, Joyce, spell check actually gives both suggested spellings. And I didn’t use it when editing Ms Rebeor’s article . . . my bad. Thank you for being a concerned reader and calling it to our attention!

  3. Well, technically it is neither. While marquee would be the better choice (and thank you for the correction) the lighted sign is not an overhang or canopy, but a freestanding structure at the driveway entrance.
    I don’t rely on spell check. First pass is AP Stylebook and then Websters, Oxford for back up, and American Heritage for confirmation.
    I simply did not know marquis was a homophone.

  4. Janet, very nice write-up. I have been in contact with John Nagelschmidt daily and I must say that he has taken this hit very well (what else would he do anyway). He has been in contact with the Insurance company and now it is on his shoulders to come up with estimates to replace the screen.

    He has a couple options, one is to rebuild a wood structure similar to the one that was there to maintain the original size or close to it (it may not be the same height) or buy a fabricated metal sign but those are 2/3rds the size of his screen. He worries that with a smaller screen that the back rows will suffer. He also worries that the nostalgia will be lost which is what he has done all these years was to preserve that “nostalgia”. I am with him on that which is why I placed so much attention to detail on the sign re-painting project.

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