The Hill Theatre won't be showing films anytime soon, but the old building's marquee will soon get a long-awaited face-lift.
The Hill Theatre Antique Mall and Vintage Variety are just two of several antique stores in downtown Hillsboro, but the building has become somewhat of an antique itself. The roof leaks, the many of the old lights outside don't work and the Hill Theatre marquee is showing signs of age.
"The marquee was getting worse and worse and it was starting to look bad," said Laura Newton of Vintage Variety, who has led the replacement and refurbishment efforts. "There have been leaks repairs; we've been repairing over the years but it's getting to the point where [the roof] needs to be replaced too."
The marquee will receive new lighting underneath and repairs to the fluorescent 'Hill' signs on both sides of the marquee. The original building also had fluorescent lighting to the right and left of the marquee. Newton said there were ideas on the table, but she doesn't have a design laid out yet.
The size and expense of the overhaul were too much for the building owners to handle, but a partnership with the City of Hillsboro and Oregon Parks and Recreation suddenly put the project within reach.
Oregon Heritage, a branch of Oregon Parks and Recreation, named the Hill Theatre project as one of 27 matching grant recipients last week. Hillsboro Downtown Partnership, in the theatre's name, will receive a $100,000 grant along with money from the city's storefront improvement program.
"It's a piece of a bigger puzzle to restore the entire block face," said Saira Siddiqui, Executive Director of the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership.
As part of the program, the city will reimburse construction costs up to $5,000 for exterior work that beautifies downtown Hillsboro. Other repairs like roof replacement are not eligible for the program.
The block near the theater is a hub of activity.
Construction is ongoing along Northeast Third Street to refit an old home and mortuary in preparation for the opening of a bakery and kitchen co-op this summer. The hope is the businesses — Decadent Creations, food trucks, a handful of small bakery-centric outlets and the possibility of a restaurant or bar — will draw foot traffic from the downtown strip.
Hill Florist, adjacent to the theater building, and Decadent Creations are both part of the storefront program. Gimre's Shoes, Sheene & Company spa, Perks of Art and Insomnia Coffee have also used funds from the program.
Renovations are underway at Let's Play, a toy store, on Main Street.
"There are currently three buildings using a grant right here in my area on 3rd Street, so having these buildings renovated is a huge deal," Newton said. "It will make the area look way better."
Overall, the project is expected to cost around $200,000. The roof replacement will likely come first, Newton said.
"The roof not leaking will be a big benefit because none of the merchandise will be damaged again by water leakage in the winter," Newton said. "It's happened before."
While the building still has a few remnants of the old theater — a big curtain in the back, the original screen and the old projection room — none of the funds will be used to renovate or repurpose the inside. All the money is for the building itself.
Renovations will help keep the building viable as a rental should any of the businesses decide to leave, Siddiqui said.