Restoration of the Lakewood Theater will kick off with a complete restoration of the exterior lighting. Kieffer-Starlite of Denton was awarded the contract to undertake the restoration. All of the neon tubing will be examined and, where needed, replaced. Additionally, all of the wiring and transformers will be replaced with modern materials which will greatly increase the reliability of the entire lighting system. While there has been extensive work done to the neon over the years, especially following the catastrophic hail storm of 2012, all tubes are being examined with an eye for identifying original tubing so that original colors can be confirmed. The work is expected to be completed by about October 1.
As it turns out, neon is still a viable, attractive, and reasonably energy efficient form of decorative lighting. If the glass tubes are properly cleansed before the insertion of the gas, the tube can be expected to work indefinitely and is the reason that many original tubes are expected to be found on the Lakewood Theater.
Neon lighting as we know it first appeared around 1910 and saw its hay day during the 1920's and 1930's. While its popularity generally waned following World War II, it was still widely used and may be said to have reached its aesthetic peak with the elaborate installations in Las Vegas and New York's Times Square during the 1950's and 1960's. Today, neon training programs don't exist and artists have to learn on the job. Neon shops are few and typically small.
These photos show the current condition and details of the neon installation, prior to any restoration work.