Website Updates: Gas Stations

I just finished combing the entire gas station section at my website (283 pages worth). This post covers all the noteworthy changes since last year’s Google Maps.

This Sinclair station in Aurora, CO was replaced with a boring, modern Sinclair station box around 2019. These batwing Phillips 66 stations were branded as Sinclair in Colorado:

Earlier this month, it was announced that this Sinclair in Denver, CO was being adapted for Benzina, an Italian restaurant:

The re-do is not at Google Maps yet but it looks like, other than fresh paint, the exterior has been preserved:
https://www.westword.com/restaurants/italian-restaurant-benzina-to-open-with-consulting-chef-brian-lockwood-11939553

This former Sinclair with the silly gabled canopy and roof in Colorado Springs, CO:

is currently being transformed into something (couldn’t find out what on-line — restaurant?). The batwing is still there with the gable (so far anyway) but it looks like the service bays have been lopped off and replaced with a hideous box:

This Phillips 66 in Fargo, ND was leveled in 2019:

This Phillips 66 station in Daytona Beach, FL was looking pretty miserable in 2009. By 2014, the canopy on the left must’ve been hit by a truck and was half gone. I figured this building’s days were numbered:

But it’s been gradually rehabbed, repainted, and, in the most recent Google Map, the building was looking spiffy with plants and a flag… and even caught someone painting! The undersides of the canopies are exposed which is probably not a good idea. There’s no sign but it appears to be in use for car repairs:

This former Husky station in Denver, CO with the mysterious rooftop addition was demolished around 2019:

While we’re on the gas station topic…. here’s one of the very first photos that I took for my website in 2001. Yes, I’ve been working on my website for 20 years now!! Initially, I was just building it for myself as a place to upload my photos and add a little info, organize things. I naively didn’t know there were things like search engines and that people were looking at my stuff until I got an email one day… Well, anyway, this was my “roadcrew” at the time: Gripper, Spud, BeeBee, and Fix. They were all well-loved, well-traveled, and are much missed. This station in Derby, CT was demolished around 2017:

Around 2019, this former Hi-Speed station in Flint, MI had its tower lopped off. There are only about a dozen or so of these buildings left. Here it was in 2011:

Here’s a vintage image of a similar, probably slightly earlier, example of these stations:

This former station in Cresskill, NJ was gone by 2020:

This former Cities Service station in Tulsa, OK was restored in 2010:

By 2019, the building was housing an architects’ office and the recreated Cities Service signs were painted over. Not cool! You’d think architects would be more sensitive but I guess some care about history and others do not:

This former Pan-Am station in Ridgeley, TN was gone by 2019:

This former Pure Oil station in Jackson, TN was demolished around 2019:

This nice canopy station in Rockdale, TX is gone now:

This Enco or Humble icebox station in Sulphur Springs, TX has been demolished. This design was used for Enco, Esso and Humble, depending on the regional location:

This former Conoco station in Winchester, VA had been vacant for many years:

In 2019, the building began housing a pizza place:

This former station in Beaver Dam, WI housed a used car dealer for many years:

In 2019, it was housing the Ooga Brewing Company:

This former icebox station in Glendale, WI housed the Kletzsch Perk coffee shop from 2003-2007. The paint was peeling in my photo here from 2011:

In 2019, the building was completely gutted and the porcelain enamel panels removed. I can’t find a photo which shows the whole building but this illustration is pretty accurate — horrible and boring, ain’t it?:

That’s a wrap! The next blog posts will cover (finally, I know) the Signs section. However, I doubt I’ll get through much of that before my summer vacay. The five-week trip starts June 4. I’ll be posting some photos daily during the trip to Instagram. Then, I’ll be busy adding new photos to my website for many months. So, these “update” posts will be interrupted starting in July with daily summary posts from that trip. Maybe I’ll take a break and get back to these update posts since adding my photos from these trips to my websites takes about six months.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

L.A. & O.C. Trip

I took a little trip last weekend to get out of my chair, take some photos, and give Gator a little roadtest. The next mega roadtrip is just seven weeks away! Y’all are probably overly sad from looking at my website update posts. So, here are some things that are still around! Gator ran flawlessly and here’s a sampling of some of the things that I shot.

The Ruta Motel in Indio, CA:


A closed liquor store in Mecca:

A modern sign in Banning:

A concrete house in Homeland:

It’s always a relief to see Mr. Milk Bottle in Pomona is still there:

In Pasadena:

A succulent garden on the side of a building in Beverly Hills:

In Los Angeles. This one is impossible to shoot. This is the north-facing panel (so, never any sun):

and the south-facing panel which is blocked by the building next door:

This sign in North Hollywood must have been incredible when it had neon and bulbs:

Dad’s Original Frozen Banana stand in Newport Beach:

This “Judo” sign is at the Valley Relics Museum in Van Nuys:

Another sign at the museum:

The restored Tower Theatre building in downtown Los Angeles:

One more for this post. The City Center Hotel sign in downtown L.A. is looking a little sad these days with the peeling paint.

Once I get all the L.A./O.C. photos up at my website (roadarch.com), I’ll be back with some blog posts covering the Gas Stations section.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Eateries (part 3)

I’ve got a nice long post for you, albeit pretty depressing. This will conclude the Eateries section. The good news is 98% of the stuff I have there remains basically the same as last year.

The El Taco in Anaheim, CA became the Taqueria El Primo around 2019. The former double drive-thru building remains the same but the signs were removed. Here’s what it looked like before that:

This former Hardee’s in Columbus, GA was one of the best-preserved examples with the tent-like roof and steeple. It was demolished by 2019. That leaves only two other former Hardee’s with steeples left (one in South Carolina and the other in Tennessee):

It would have looked like this originally:

This Pizza King in Muncie, IN got the backlit plastic treatment recently. Here it is when it had neon:

and now… It looks like they at least kept the neon on the crown outline:

This former Little Tavern hamburger restaurant in Washington, DC was demolished in 2019. Fortunately, there are about 12 of these buildings left:

The Beef-A-Roo in Marquette, MI closed in 2019 and this sign was removed.

The only Beef-A-Roo location in Iron River, MI has a similar sign which I believe is the last one left on public display. I believe this very small chain only existed in the “UP” of Michigan. In a 2019 article, it was announced that the surviving Iron River and Negaunee locations would be closing as soon as their properties were sold. However, both are still operating.

The Sawmill Inn in Grand Rapids, MN closed in 2018 and was demolished later that year:

The former Carrol’s Hamburgers in Las Vegas, NV finally succumbed to the wrecking ball last year. It was the most intact example of the chain’s buildings left.

This is what the building would have looked like originally:

This former Sambo’s in Reno, NV was demolished after a fire in 2018:

The White Castle headquarters building in Columbus, OH was demolished in 2019 as the employees moved into their bigger building built next door:

Scotty’s Drive-in in Aberdeen, SD opened in 1962 as part of a small chain with locations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Idaho which all had these signs and swoopy roofs with curved wood beams:

… became Daddy’s Bar & Grill in 2009 and the sign was adapted. In 2015, new owners changed the name back to Scotty’s. The letters look like they might be the originals but are now backlit plastic instead of neon. The broken plastic UFO-ish feature above the sign was repaired. They are internally lit:

The Weber’s Root Beer in Stratford, NJ opened in 1959 and closed in 2015….

It reopened last year. However, it closed just after a few weeks due to “staffing issues” and then came COVID. The owner plans to reopen later this year. The sign above was replaced with a “retro” neon sign. The canopy and the building under it were preserved. However, the plastic letters on the edge of the canopy are gone now. No photo at Google yet — this is from NJ.com:

and from the drive-in’s Facebook page:

It appears that the sign was inspired by the Safeway sign in San Jose, CA that was adapted from the original Futurama Bowl sign:

The former White Tower in Dearborn, MI was operating as Tamy’s Diner when closed in 2015…

The building was restored around 2020. The building looks a little naked without the plastic “Hamburgers” letters and the lights. The interior was gutted and the shiny porcelain enamel panels were covered up with white paint. But at least they kept the WT logo above the former entrance. It looks like there’s stuff inside but no business sign and no clues at Google yet:

The Zesto Drive-in in Watertown, SD from 1953 is still there and the original sign on the roof still has its neon. When the business moved to this location in 1965, they brought the sign with them:

There would originally have been a neon outline around the blue panel, but, hey, that’s being picky:

However, this unique pole sign at this location is gone now:

Around 2018, it was replaced with this sign — backlit plastic on top and graphic display below:

I’m going to take a little break before the remaining three whopper sections. Gas Stations is the next topic, then will be Signs, and, the biggest, Mid-Century Modern Buildings. If the weather forecast holds, I’m going to take a little L.A. 3-day weekend next week and share some photos from that in the next post.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Eateries (pt. 2)

The bulb letters on this Baskin-Robins sign in Los Angeles, CA:

were replaced with backlit plastic letters around 2020:

There’s only one other sign left like this with the bulbs that I know of, in La Mesa, CA.

One of the very few remaining Denny’s neon signs was updated with backlit plastic around 2019. Here’s the sign in Stockton, CA in 2014:

and now — note the Restaurant panel is also gone:

This Denny’s sign in San Antonio, TX was updated around 2019. The original corrugated plastic panels were replaced with boring, flat plastic panels:

This former Dairy Isle in Oneida, NY was still there in 2018 but the the building was gone by 2019:

The former Dairy Isle in Hamtramck, MI:

was looking great in 2019 with new paint:

The former Dairy Queen in Dunkirk, OH has been the Dairy Dream for decades:

Google Maps doesn’t have the new map yet showing the paint job which was done in 2019. So, here’s a photo from Dairy Dream’s website:

This one is a major loss. The unique sundae sign at the Dairy Queen in Terre Haute, IN is gone now. The rooftop letters remain. There is another Terre Haute location with those. I don’t believe any other Dairy Queen locations had them:

I even wrote about this sign for my book. I spoke to the store owner just now and he told me that just before he bought the place, the previous owner sold the sign to a collector for about $30,000. Here’s a closeup:

A former Roy Rogers restaurant in Houston, TX housed a porn shop for many years:

It has now been adapted for a Velvet Taco and opened in January. Google Maps doesn’t have a photo yet but here’s one from company’s FB page. The original roof has been uncovered and the rocky columns preserved (although pink is a little harsh). There must have been hundreds of these buildings around the country beginning in 1968 but only about 19 survive, and none used by Roy Rogers anymore:

That’s enough for one sitting. Lots more Eateries posts to come (I’m only the “F”s right now in this section).

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Eateries (Part 1)

This is a big section with about 250 pages so we will be here a while. If you haven’t poked around in this section before, it’s pretty thorough!
https://www.roadarch.com/eateries/main.html


The Chip’s chain was founded in 1964. Although it was short-lived, about 150 locations were built.

There are only about 10 of these buildings left now. This one in Milwaukee, WI was there in 2018 but a parking lot by 2019:

The Golden Point chain was founded in 1958. At least 80 locations were built nationwide. There are only about 11 of these buildings left. This location in Mount Prospect, IL, long gone, was one of the first:


This one in Denver, CO was demolished around 2020:

There was a fire at the Cindy’s Restaurant in San Jose, CA in 2015. It was surrounded by chain link fencing until 2020 when it was demolished. Two locations in Davis, CA and Westminster, CA survive which have the save roof, zigzag features over the counter, and giant “holes” in the ceilings:

I’m getting really worried about this former Lyons Coffee Shop in Hayward, CA which has been surrounded by chain link fencing for about three years now:

One of the worst sign adaptations in 2019 — the Grinder Haven sign in Ontario, CA:

If you’re looking at this on your phone and can’t see the detail, those are backlit plastic letters simply stuck on the panels. At least they left cute A-shaped beams on the building:

The White Log Coffee Shop in Los Angeles, CA has been through a lot since it was built in 1932. 62 of these faux log cabin restaurants were built along the California coast but this is the only one that’s survived. Here’s a vintage photo from the 1940s:

The sign with the frying pan clock is believed to date to the late 1950s. Here are some photos that I’ve taken of it over the years – 2012:

2015:

2019:

In 2020, there was major fire which gutted the interior. Fortunately, due to its concrete construction, the little cutie-patootie survived. In December, it reopened:

Let’s end with this bit of good news. Many, many more Eateries posts to come.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (part 4)

The Bay Theatre in Baytown, TX was built in 1942. It housed a church for many years. The building was demolished in 2019 when the local court deemed it “too dangerous for occupation”:

The State Theatre in Culpeper, VA had been closed since 1993 – my photo from 2010:

The theatre was built in 1938 as the Pitts Theatre:

After extensive renovation work and recreation of the original blade sign and marquee, the theatre reopened in 2013. It closed just three years later. Here it is vacant in 2018:

In 2019, the interior was gutted and adapted for State Climb, an indoor rock climbing facility, which opened in January 2020. From their FB page:

The Fox Theatre in Centralia, WA has gone through a lot but it’s now getting serious renovation. Here’s one of my photos from 2008 with its 1958 sign. Um, obviously not those colors originally:

And when I shot it in 2015 with the new sign and canopy based on the 1930 originals:

Soooo pretty at night (the Fox’s FB page):

The theatre closed in 2019 for interior renovations. The new doors and replica ticket booth were installed in 2020 (the Fox’s FB page) and more serious work going on inside:

The Crescent Pitcher Show (originally the Crescent Theatre) in Shawano, WI in 2011. It was already missing the freestanding Crescent letters on both sides of the round readerboard marquee:

The theatre closed in 2013. In 2020, it reopened as the Stubborn Brothers Brewery. Google map from 2019 showed work going on. The upstairs is used as the Crescent Ballroom for weddings and such:

The current look from the brewery’s FB page:

The Rialto Theatre in Casper, WY:

… got a marquee and sign makeover in 2018. The neon was all removed. Note how nice and plentiful it was in the photo above, stacked up on all the edges of the triangulated tower AND the letters. The new LED rope (photo below) is really sloppy, with rounded corners on each of the letters. The new color scheme is, in my opinion, really crappy. The channel letters on the lower right are gone as well:

So, there you have it with the theatres. I’ll be venturing off in the next posts from the Eateries section (restaurants — fast food, special cafes, all that). Four sections left and they are the huge ones. After Eateries will be Gas Stations, Signs, and Mid-Century Modern Buildings. I don’t think there’s any way I can finish this project before the big June trip but I will try!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (Part 3)

Let’s finish up the Ohio theatres. The Livingston Theatre in Columbus, OH was built in 1946 and closed in the 1970s. It was used as office space and other functions and really deteriorated over the years:

It has now been adapted for senior apartments:

The building on the corner to the right housed Segel’s Drugs originally:

and my photo from 2009:

Google doesn’t have current photos of that part of the building but I know that it’s being restored as well.

The Gloria Theatre in Urbana, OH was closed in 2011 for renovations:

It reopened in 2015 and looks fabulous now:

The Limelite Theatre in Woodville, OH was demolished in 2013:

Moving on to Portland, OR – the Guild Theatre closed in 2006. Here’s one of my photos from 2015:

In 2017, restoration of the building began and the sign is looking terrific now. The theatre now houses a bookstore:

The Paris Theatre in Portland, OR was remodeled for a nightclub/live performance venue in 2016 and the sign was repainted and neon restored. My photo from 2015:

And here’s what it looks like now – from Google. I think the place has closed already in 2019:

The Garden Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA looked miserable in 2010:

The rooftop sign was missing in 2014 while renovation work was going on. It reappeared in 2017, fully restored, and the canopy sign then went into hiding while it was restored. Then, in 2019, both signs were back and the building looked great. Work still going on inside. But damn — I love the globes and all the other details:

I guess they are not going to bring back that other readerboard sign that was between the restored signs?

The Alverson Center Theatre in Anderson, SC:

was purchased by a church in 2018, gutted, and here’s what it looks like now:

The College Theatre in Brookings, SD was built in 1941 but its been closed for decades. It’s been housing this gym since at least 2008:

In 2018, the readerboard was adapted for the gym’s sign and the “COLLEGE” neon letters were revealed again. It looks like the nice porcelain enamel tiles were painted over though:

The Princess Theatre in Harriman, TN looked dreary as hell in 2005:

but then in 2011 the building got a complete makeover and is now a live performance venue. The design was based on the theatre’s 1939 look:

That’s enough for this post. I still have about 24 pages left to go in this section. So, there will probably be one more about theatres.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (Part 2)

More good news & bad news re: theatres below.

The Colonial Theatre in Pittsburg, KS was built in 1920. In 1959, it became the Fox Colonial Theatre and the marquee sign below was installed:

The sign was restored around 2014 and this is what the building looks like now. Majestic, yes, but I do miss the sign. It’s a trend in recent years to remove nice vintage signs from theatres to return to original looks or replace them with replicas of original signs:

The Alhambra Theatre in Hopkinsville, KY:

was updated a bit in 2018. The readerboard sign was removed and two digital displays were installed. The poster display windows and the lovely black and orange vitrolite glass panels are gone now. At least the sign is looking sharp:

The sign at the Capitol Theatre in Pittsfield, MA was either restored or replicated in 2019 — here’s what it looked like in 2011:

and what it looks like now. I think it has LED instead of neon. The readerboards on the sides are still there. I lean toward thinking this is a replica sign – note the detail panel on top with the wreath is wider:

An article about the sign’s restoration mentioned that this was the original sign from 1922 but, no. Here’s a shot (courtesy of cinematreasures.com) of the lovely bulb sign from 1923 which was there. Note the incredible modular bulb letters:

The Capitol Theatre in Flint, MI:

has been restored and reopened in 2019 as a live performance venue. The blade sign was converted from neon letters to channel letters with bulbs and the readerboards are now digital displays:

The Strand Theatre in Paw Paw, MI:

is now looking better without the paneling:

One more from Michigan. The Court Theatre in Saginaw, MI:

… got a facade makeover by 2017. The vitrolite tiles shown above were removed:

The State Theatre in Ely, MN was looking pretty sad in 2011:

The sign is looking good now but, unfortunately, they went with LED tubing instead of neon:

The Ellen Theatre in Bozeman, MT:

In 2019, the neon sign and canopy were removed and replaced with a new canopy with glass which is closer to the original one from 1919. A new readerboard sign was installed over that:

The neon sign is in storage and there is hope that it might be displayed somewhere in town someday. Here’s what the theatre looked like in 1938 (from cinematreasures.org):

The Fox Theatre in North Platte, NE:

The blade sign was “restored” in 2019 — with LED strips:

The Hippodrome Theatre in Loch Sheldrake, NY was demolished in 2017:

The marquee sign in Majestic Theatre in Chillicothe, OH was in 2011. My photo from 2009 below:

And what it looks like now:

Here’s a 1939 photo from cinematreasures.org:

The Woodward Theatre in Cincinnati, OH has undergone a miraculous transformation. It was built in 1913 and had been closed since 1933. It was housing an antiques store when I took this photo in 2012:

It reopened after being completely restored in 2014 as a live performance venue:

The projecting bulb sign is a recreation of the original. It looks like the statues were replaced at some point:

This is turning out to be another long post. I’ll be back soon with yet more theatres. I think one more post about these should do it before I move on to other sections.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (Part 1)

The Vogue Theatre in Chula Vista, CA which has been vacant since 2014:

… is being converted into a live performance space — Google Street View from last year:

The plan also includes adding a blade sign back over the entrance:

However, I don’t think that was ever there — the original look is here (photo from San Diego History Center):

The Mission Theatre in Fallbrook, CA:

In 2019 or 2020, the building got a new paint job (why is gray so trendy?) and the neon has been removed from the sign:

The Mesa Theatre in Grand Junction, CO:

… got a makeover in 2019 — and not for the better. The neon and letters are now gone


The Fox Theatre in Walsenburg, CO:

was repainted around 2019:

The Community Theatre in Fairfield, CT:

… closed in 2011. In 2019, it was sold and restoration work began. In 2020, it reopened as the Sacred Heart University Community Theatre. The marquee sign is new but is very similar to the previous 1936 version — kudos to them for staying with neon instead of LED tubing:

The original sign from the early 1920s must have been opal glass and looked like this:

The Miller Theatre in Augusta, GA closed in 1983 and it seemed doomed:

but miracles sometimes happen and the theatre was restored and reopened in 2017. Google Street View has the 2019 view up now:

The Nuart Theatre in Moscow, ID closed in 1999 and the building was purchased by a church in 2004. My photo here is from 2016:

This Google Street View from 2018 was already an “uh-oh” with the sign company at work:

Sure enough, look what happened by 2019 — blocky plastic letters, and a lavender/blue paint job and a new marquee sign:

The Crown Theatre in Crown Point, IN looked like this from the late 1960s until this false front (my photo from 2007) was removed in 2019.

Here’s what the building looks like now. Very nice… but I miss the plastic and giant crown. It’s now a live performance venue:

The Clyde Theatre in Fort Wayne, IN sat vacant for many years and then housed a church (like so many other theatres). My photo here from 2009:

In 2017, work began to turn it into a theatre again. Usually, these plans fall through when it comes to movie theatres. But in this case, it really happened! A replica of the 1951 sign (sans neon) was installed in 2018:

This post is getting long — so let’s end it here on a positive note. Back with more theatres soon.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Art Deco & Streamline Moderne Buildings

I’m relieved but not surprised that out of the 124 pages in this section, very little has changed. I’m sure the less popular/less protected buildings in the midcentury modern section will not fare as well once I get to that one.

Let’s start with this building in Long Beach, CA which housed Acres of Books from 1959-2008:

And then it sat vacant:

until last year — from Google below — apparently, they are saving the facade:

Construction is still going on but here’s what the plan is for the “Broadway Block” development:

This nice building in La Mesa, CA was not so lucky. After a devastating fire set by rioters in reaction to the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the building was declared a total loss and was demolished later that year. The building originally housed a bank:

A couple of my photos from 2018:

I dunno. It looks like the facade could have been saved to me:

The Oakland Floral Depot in Oakland, CA is one of the nicest Art Deco buildings in the country. Don’t worry – it’s fine!

But the sign:

was updated when the Palmetto bar & steakhouse opened in 2020 in the corner location:

The Masonic Temple in Dallas, TX has been restored but, honestly, I’m not a fan. Here’s a photo I took in 2018:

And this is what it looks like now. Sure, it’s been cleaned up but the original lettering and Masonic symbols from 1941 are now missing from the entrance – boo, hiss! I kinda miss the schmutz:

This bakery building in Houston, TX:

was repainted in 2019 — it does look much nicer:

One of my favorites in Houston, TX, the long-abandoned Gribble Stamp & Stencil Building… a mini Flatiron-shaped building… and I’ve been worried about it for years:

It’s been gutted and is being renovated with the building next door for “Soccer Shots,” a soccer training facility:

This is the illustration of what the completed building will look like. New glass block is never as nice as the old stuff but, hey, at least they are keeping the general look:

Brace yourself – this one’s gonna hurt. This beautiful vitrolite-faced number in Manitowoc, WI:

has been given this horrible paint job:

I’ve got five more sections to go at this point but they are the biggies: Theatres, Eateries, Gas Stations, Signs, and Midcentury Modern. I’m not even half-way done. So, this will probably take at least a two or three months. I’m gonna treat myself to some local, California trips soon just to get outta this chair!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs