In creating the Ellen Theatre’s new marquee and ironwork, designers are excited to leave a legacy in Bozeman.

“We might be creating the next marquee that’s going to be standing the next 50, 60 years,” designer Jeff Brandner said.

Designers are finishing ironwork and stained glass for the Ellen’s new exterior. Once up, it will be the last piece of renovation work done to restore the building back to how it looked when Fred Willson designed it in 1919. It’s scheduled to be installed Aug. 26.

“We definitely tried to capture some of the original themes of what the marquee would have been like when it was built,” Brandner said.

That will include ironwork with posts featuring big brown spheres on top, stacked pieces, layers of trim with all different shapes and spirals. The Ellen was able to track down original blueprints and photos of the building when it first opened, and Brandner said that has served as inspiration for designers.

It definitely has a classic look, he said, modernized only slightly. The piece will feature a “beautiful” mix of blues, browns and blacks with real brass details, including angel door handles.

Brass was used a lot 100 years ago, and Brandner said it’s making a comeback.

“Even in some of our modern designs, you’re using more brass because it’s a more natural, warm metal,” he said. “It adds such a distinct color contrast to some of the black steel that’s so common now.”

David Fjeld with Big Sky Stained Glass is also trying to stay true to the building’s roots in his designs. He’s buying his glass from Kokomo Opalescent Glass in Indiana, which he said has been making glass the same way for 100 years.

He said the glass that will be incorporated with the ironwork will be an opalescent blue and amber mix, cut into 60 to 80 rectangular shapes. Each piece will have different marbling and have its own characteristics, he said.

“We’ll be putting the last touch on the whole thing,” he said. “The crowning jewel, I guess you could call it.”

Having lived in Bozeman his whole life and doing glass work for 46 years, he’s excited to be part of the project.

“We’re doing a simple job, but it’s an important part of the whole thing,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having something that’s going to stay there a long time.”

Abby Lynes can be reached at or 406-582-2651. Follow her on Twitter @Abby_Lynes.

Abby Lynes covers business and the economy for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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