Grand Theatre/Ellsworth, ME (Vitrolite)

Portland Press Herald (Maine)

October 24, 2010 Sunday

Bob Keyes staff writer

THE GRAND IN ELLSWORTH is in the final stages of a project to refurbish its 40-foot Art Deco tower. Built in 1938, the theater tower was constructed with pigmented red and black glass known as Vitrolite. Builders favored it in external facades in the ’30s and ’40s.

It’s nearly impossible to find these days. The Grand, a multi-use theater, went all the way to St. Louis to find replacement glass.

”They had black Vitrolite, but the red we could not find,” said Zoe Scott, the Grand’s executive director.

The Grand moved the best of its salvageable original red glass to the entryway, where most people pass through. In less visible spots, replacement glass is back-tinted with the same shade of red.

Technicians from Portland Glass trained with the St. Louis company to learn proper installation techniques. ”We wanted to get local people in here. That way, if something happens, we don’t have to fly someone in from St. Louis to fix it,” Scott said.

The venue worked with WBRC architects in Bangor, and consulted with Maine Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Landmarks on the project. All aspects of the preservation efforts meet established guidelines, Scott said.

The Grand will celebrate the completion of the project with a party for major donors at

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