The prospective owner of the Auburn Schine Theater is turning to the public to help with one part of the theater's restoration.

Schines Theater LLC is offering $5,000 for the return of the 1938 art deco theater's blade sign. The theater's current owner, the Cayuga County Arts Council, announced the search to The Citizen.

The 60-foot sign, which said "AUBURN SCHINES" in vertically arranged letters, was removed in 1970.

Todd Gaglianese, the Schine's former building manager, said the sign was removed because it was rusty and fell into disrepair. He recalled seeing it lying on its side in the theater in 1980, the year it became Charlie's Night Club. At the time, the Schine was owned by Pentagon Realty, a corporation with late Auburn attorney John Pettigrass as its principal, according to The Citizen archives.

"The Pettigrass family had possession of the upright blade last," Gaglianese said in an email.

Gaglianese claims the sign was later moved to the old Wegman Piano Co. factory on Logan Street. He also recalled seeing the sign lying on its side outside the factory, allowing rain to further damage it. But the sign was not at the factory as of 2005, when the Bartolotta family bought it to turn into Logan Park Lofts, Joseph Bartolotta said.

However, Pettigrass' son, Mike, said he can't recall seeing the sign at the Schine or the piano factory. He worked at the theater on almost a daily basis during the late '70s and early '80s, he said, and "it would stick out in your mind if there was a 60-foot-long sign."

"If anyone in our family knew where it was, we'd love to donate it," Mike said. "I'd love to see that theater restored. It was an incredible statement for the city of Auburn."

Regardless of the sign's whereabouts, Schines Theater LLC seeks to return it to 16 South St. The LLC is owned by Bowers Development, of Syracuse, which is awaiting approval from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to take ownership of the theater from the arts council. Bowers recently oversaw removal of the theater's asbestos and other hazardous materials.

Restoring or replicating the sign is part of Bowers' plan to restore the Schine. The developer estimates the project will cost $6 million and conclude by October 2019.

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.


Features editor for The Citizen and auburnpub.com. I also cover local arts and culture, business, food and drink, and more.