Exeter’s Iconic IOKA Marquee is Gone … Hopefully Temporarily
I'm not sure how this got by me.
The new owners of the IOKA theater, 53 Water Street Exeter, David Cowie and Jay Caswell hired a crew on Friday to take down the iconic IOKA marquee, according to a story from Seacoast Online.
The seacoast online report also said that Exeter's Historic District Commission voted that the sign is 'historically significant' and has to be saved as part of the redevelopment plan. The plan for the building sounds really cool. The new owners plan on putting a restaurant / bar in the basement, shops on the first floor and apartments in the upper floors. The commission expects to see it restored and back on the building.
From what we all can see with our own eyes, the sign needs a LOT of work, including some of the neon lights that need to be replaced. It will be costly repair, I'm assuming, but I am hopeful that it will go back up.
Remember back in the day when the neon lights shined and the names of the performers were on the marquee? Here's a great video of when Phil Wilson and Tommy Gallant Trio played at the IOKA in 1988:
I am additionally hopeful that the new owners will do a similar thing that happened to the YOKEN's SIGN on Lafayette Road in Portsmouth. "THAR SHE BLOWS!!" Do you remember when they took that down? That was terrible! Thankfully, it was repaired at a big cost I'm assuming, but put back on Route 1 even though the Yoken's Restaurant building had been torn down.
If you don't remember the sign, check this out:
Communication is key. If everyone is talking, things can get resolved and the neon can shine again in downtown Exeter! (Or, at least that's what I want....)