What Will Happen With the IOKA Marquee in Exeter?
There is some discussion about the IOKA theater's marquee after the new owners submitted plans, according to a report from Seacoast Online.
The new owners say that the iconic signage needs a lot of repair and they just don't see it being part of the remodel. They are looking at other options for the sign and definitely don't want to see the sign just end up thrown away.
From all reports, the building is going to be gorgeous when it's done. The new owners are proposing a speakeasy restaurant in the basement and retail space on the street level with apartments or condos above it all.
There are arguments being made that many people who live in the apartments or condos might really like having the urban feel of neon just outside of their window. There are others who say that just isn't feasible with the amount of repair that the sign needs. There is, according to the report, very little original neon.
The IOKA has been around since 1915, the history video says. The Birth of a Nation was the first movie ever shown in that theater. Yes..... that awful film of 1915. The video also mentions that the name "IOKA" means "Indian Playground," not the common myth that it means "I OWE KELLY ALL." At one point the theater went through bankruptcy and it was assumed that the theater owed it's investors.
To the new owners: My two cents? Keep the marquee. Do whatever you need to repair the sign and bring it back to the beautiful neon that it once was. If you are investing in the community like you say you are, restore that beautiful sign. The people of Exeter will love you for it.
Also, you have to check this out. I love the old-timey announcer voice:
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