Historic Windows for the Egyptian Theater

Boise’s Egyptian Theater – located at the intersection of Capitol and Main – was originally built in 1927.  In the 1930s the theater was renamed the Ada. By the 40s the name had changed to the Fox theater before finally switching back to the Egyptian in the 1970s.

It is actually one of many Egyptian-themed picture houses built around the country in the 1920s. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 spawned a worldwide fascination with all things Egyptian, and contributed to the evolving aesthetic of Art Deco.

In 1999 the building underwent a significant restoration and we were commissioned to produce a pair of six-foot historic windows celebrating the theater’s past. Our windows were designed to depict the street scene outside of the theater as it appeared in 1928 and a couple decades later, in 1946. Working on the back of the glass, we screen-printed halftone patterns which we produced from actual black and white photographs. Then we colored the scenes in a method not unlike antique hand-tinted prints.

Surrounding each street scene is a highly embellished border depicting ancient Egyptian gods and hieroglyphs. These elements reflect some of the architectural details inside and outside the theater.

The Egyptian theater lives on as one of Boise’s most cherished landmarks. It plays regular host to guest speakers, concerts and film festivals. Click through the photos on the right for larger versions as well as additional technical notes.

Boise's Egyptian Theater

Boise’s Egyptian Theater, located at the corner of Capitol and Main St.

Egyptian Windows

These historic windows (located on the West side of the building) were produced during the same time as a major building renovation in 1999.

1928 Window

Each window measures six feet square. They feature street scenes based on historic photos from 1928 and 1946.

1928 Window

Surrounding each street scene is a highly embellished border depicting ancient Egyptian gods and hieroglyphs.

Cars Closeup

We screen-printed halftone patterns and then we painted color in a process not unlike antique hand-tinted photos.


The texture on the upper section of its wings is created with Damar varnish (mixed with transparent screen ink) which allows us time to mold its appearance as it sets up.


The scarab’s blue body has transparent colored glazes that give it form. White gold, applied behind the glaze, imbues it with a beautiful reflective finish.

Architectural Detail

This architectural detail – wings and gold snake heads – inspired the scarab beetle’s design.

Egyptian Vulture

Another gilded detail on the border: an Egyptian vulture.


A pair of lions along the bottom of the 1946 border.

Floral Border

Floral border – the top photo shows a point in the process with the gilding complete and the painting in progress. On the bottom: a close-up of the finished product.

Corner Detail

Corner detail.


Painting the fills inside the flowers – from the reverse side of the glass the gilded lines are trapped with back-up black paint.


Another shot of the border in progress, this time from the front side of the glass.


With the border complete, we prepared the interior sections to be screen-printed with the historic photos. The windows are seen here hanging in our sign shop in downtown Boise. When it comes to complex gilding work it’s almost always preferable to avoid working on-site.


Pouring the ink onto the screen – the red sections are the parts of the screen coated in a resist that prevents the ink form passing through.


Vertical screen-printing – right to left: Jim York, John McMann and Noel Weber Jr.


Pulling the second window.


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