The Idaho State Historical Society recently honored 13 individuals and groups for their efforts to preserve and promote the past. Two of their prestigious awards recognized recipients in the Pocatello area.
Randy Dixon and the Old Town Pocatello Foundation’s Relight the Night committee each received an Esto Perpetua Award in Boise on June 3.
“Lots of other people and projects throughout the state were deserving, but we stood tall,” Dixon said. “We’ve been doing our job.”
The award is named after the state’s motto, Esto Perpetua, which means “let it be perpetual.” The society has used the award for the past 20 years to honor people and organizations who preserve and promote Idaho’s history through professional accomplishments, public service, volunteerism and philanthropy, according to the Idaho State Historical Society’s website, history.idaho.gov.
Dixon, who became interested in preserving Pocatello’s history while he was in his mid 30s, says he was honored to receive a personal award just a few days before his 70th birthday.
“It’s a very enjoyable thing to preserve history,” Dixon said.
Dixon received an Esto Perpetua Award for spearheading the restoration of the Chief Theatre that dated back to 1938. The former theater adorned with murals showed the latest hits and once drew actor Robert Redford for a screening.
Used as a performing arts center in its later years, the building provided a venue for plays, concerts and community events.
Tragically, it was destroyed by a fire in 1993. But Dixon has continued to keep its memory alive through exhibits and the Facebook page “Chief Theatre Project,” where he and others can share stories and memorabilia.
“Preserving the history of the Chief Theatre is the main thing,” Dixon said.
The Idaho State Historical Society also recognized Dixon with the award for his efforts to preserve Brady Park and his service as the vice president of the Bannock County Historical Museum.
The Relight the Night committee, which Dixon chairs, was also honored with an Esto Perpetua Award for preserving neon signs in old town Pocatello and ensuring they remain embedded in the fabric of the city, according to history.idaho.gov. In addition, the committee was recognized for educating and keeping the community vested in the area’s historic districts.
“I could not be prouder of that group and the Old Town Pocatello Foundation,” Dixon said, adding that they’ve received national attention for their accomplishments in recent years. “Relight the Night has been relentless. They have not let up.”
The committee raises funds to restore and maintain the most beloved and iconic signs in the community. It was behind the relighting of the Fred’s Photo sign on April 5 — the 14th historic sign that has come back to life since the iconic Chief Theatre sign was re-lit in 2013, according to the committee’s Facebook page, “Relight the Night.” Dixon says local businesses have seen to the restoration of some of those signs, as well.
There are now a total of 27 historic signs that turn on every night, according to the Facebook page. And the committee is already raising funds for its next project — the restoration of a Buster Brown Shoes sign.
“(As long as the) beautiful neon signs we have in old town Pocatello continue to shine brightly, the history that surrounds them will never be forgotten,” Dixon said.
While Dixon and Relight the Night were honored for their efforts, Dixon says they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what they have without the support of Old Town Pocatello, the City of Pocatello, local sign businesses, supportive community members and other organizations that have contributed to their efforts to preserve the area’s history.
“It certainly doesn’t happen without others involved,” Dixon said. “Historic preservation takes a community.”