This blog documents the photo-gathering roadtrips for RoadsideArchitecture.com (aka roadarch.com). That gigantic website covers buildings, signs & statues from the 1920s-1970s. The posts here offer about a dozen photos from each day of shooting. In winter, there are "news" posts about demolitions, removals, remodeling, restorations, etc.
The R-Tee Golf in Chenango Bridge, NY is gone now. It had lots of classic obstacles and statues like these:
From the Diners section… the Welcome Diner in Phoenix, AZ was vacant for a few years:
Last year, it began housing The Garfield Phoenix:
This Valentine diner in Ellinwood, KS was looking pretty shabby:
The siding was removed and it’s looking a bit nicer now. I don’t know if any of the interior’s built-shelves, counters, or stools are still there.
Mattie’s Diner in Charlotte, NC was originally located in New Jersey. In 2008, it was moved to Charlotte where it opened in 2010. It closed after just a few years and went into storage again. A new location was found and it reopened in April. It’s good to see it back in use again:
Moving on to the Animal Statues section. This orangutan statue in Natchitoches, LA is gone now. There are still three other examples of these that I know of in Memphis, TN, Roseville, OH and Olin, IA.
This bear in Sonora, CA is gone:
This Snowball-Throwing Polar Bear in Nashville, TN was missing an arm and looking pretty shabby:
But he’s now been restored!
This Broaster Chicken in Marshalltown, IA is gone now:
This statue in Napa, CA was located at the Red Hen Cantina. The restaurant has closed and the statue is gone:
This “classic” rooster in Pearl River, MS is gone now:
The giant flamingo in Baltimore, MD was installed at the Cafe Hon for 20 years. The restaurant closed in April and the statue is in storage. It is hoped that it will be reinstalled in the same neighborhood at some point.
This wood-carved bird in Westport, OR is gone now:
This statue at the Cardinal Motel in Bowling Green, KY…
is still there and in good shape. The motel itself was destroyed in a December 2021 tornado but it is being rebuilt:
That’s it for the bird statues but I still have lots of other animal pages to go through. Be back soon.
This is a big post from combing 55 very dense pages. And like so many of these winter posts, it’s mostly losses. But consider the hundreds of wonderful things in this section that I’m not reporting about that are still out there. For now.. Shoot ’em while you can!
From the Body Parts pages, this Giant Vertebrae in Metamora, IL is gone now:
This Giant Boot on top of a memorial in Gibsonton, FL is missing now:
From the Fake Castles pages — the Kidz Kastle building in Dothan, AL is gone now:
The former Beverage Castle in Riverview, FL:
has been painted black for the El Patio Hookah Lounge:
This cute little building in Lacombe, LA is gone now:
The castle buildings in Clovis, NM were demolished earlier this year:
The 2nd floor castle details were removed from this building in Albuquerque, NM earlier this year:
The Hot Dog Castle in Abilene, TX was built in 1975. It has housed many other restaurants since then and been repainted as many times. In 2011, as The Forge, the turrets were more prominent before the addition to the front:
Here’s the latest look from this year as Stonewalls Pizza Wings & Things:
The Leisure World giant globe in Silver Spring, MD:
has been painted bright green:
The property on which this giant globe resides in Savannah, GA was sold last year:
The buildings were demolished earlier this year and the moon mailbox is missing. There are plans to build a Parker’s Kitchen, a Starbucks and Chick-fil-A on the property. The globe will be staying!
This sign and giant cartridge in Roe, AR are gone now:
From the Icebergs and Igloos pages. It appears that the canopy roof of the Crystal Ice Company building in Pensacola, FL collapsed earlier this year. The building is listed on the National Register and has been protected behind chain link fencing for years. Here’s hoping that someone will get right on the situation and make the necessary repairs:
This Iceberg Ice & Water stand in Fredericksburg, TX was recently replaced with a boring box-shaped Twice the Ice stand. Fortunately, there’s another one of these in Rosenberg, TX.
The Giant Horseshoe in Kissimmee, FL is gone now:
The giant saw in Lafayette, LA is gone now:
In 2021, Public Storage bought the All Storage chain. The company’s giant cardboard boxes have all been repainted with the new name. Here are the two in Fort Worth, TX:
The box in White Settlement, TX:
And the one in Plano, TX:
From the Paint Cans page — this one in Springfield, MA is gone now:
The paint can in Tucson, AZ is also gone:
These paint cans in Anniston, AL are also gone:
From the Giant Ships pages, this building in Watkins Glen, NY is gone now:
This Giant Skate in Wilburton, OK is gone now:
From the Fake Windmills pages… recently, the sign at the Towne Crier in Clovis, NM was replaced and the windmills blades were covered with other new signs. The Towne Crier was built in 1970 as the Zuider Zee seafood restaurant. The Towne Crier moved into the building in 1984. Here are a couple of “before” photos:
and here is the “after”:
Let’s end this post with some good news. The Old Dutch Store in Salt Lake City, UT opened in 1978 and this windmill might have been built then:
In 2021, the building was repainted and the signs were replaced. A new windmill was under construction:
In September from the store’s FB page, no blades yet but I assume those are coming:
Moving on next time to Dinosaurs and Department Stores.
I have only one noteworthy item from the Drive-ins section. The Hilltop Drive-in in Joliet, IL closed in 2001. Here’s one of my photos from 2009:
Last year, it was hit by a storm and now it’s just a pile of rubble:
Moving on to the SCA section. For the past 15 years, I’ve been writing the feature articles about signs for the Society for Commercial Archeology. For most of the articles, I have built separate “companion” pages at my website. Since I can only include about 8 signs in each article, these pages provide more examples of the type of signs covered with more photos/history, links to examples of vintage signs that are gone, and all that.
You also might want to become a member to enjoy the full benefits (Journals 2x year, RoadNotes newsletters 4x year, Zoom presentations on a variety of roadside subjects, etc.)
Starting out with “news” from the Bowling Signs pages. The article for this one will be out in the Spring 2024 issue.
The Golden Pin Lanes in Tucson, AZ operated from 1960-2019:
The bowling alley was demolished last year. But the curved rock wall and signs that were in front of the building will be preserved for the new Palm County Northwest Service Center. Here’s the rendering:
This sign in Cicero, IL is gone now. According to the guy that I spoke with just now, it was removed about three months ago. He said that the city made them take it down as non-conforming and it’s sitting in the parking lot now. It sounds like they are going to sell it:
The Creole Lanes closed in 2018 and this sign in Vincennes, IN is gone now:
The E-Town Lanes in Elizabethtown, KY became the B&B Lanes in February. Here’s the “before”:
and the “after” crappy makeover (the neon is gone and other changes made):
The Hy-Way Bowl in Union, NJ closed in 2018. Earlier this year, the building was demolished and this sign is gone:
The Sugar Bowl Lanes in Belen, NM closed in 2008. In 2021, there was a big fire. The building and sign are gone now.
The Hi-Roc Lanes sign in Saratoga Springs, NY:
is now known as the Saratoga Strike Zone and the sign has been simplified:
From the Diving Women Signs companion page, the diver at the Beverly Motel in Mobile, AL is gone now:
From the Clock Signs companion pages, this sign in Dixon, IL is gone now:
Let’s end this post on a positive note. The Gem Box Jewelers sign in Tampa, FL was just restored. Here’s what it looked like in 2020:
That’s a very faithful restoration. The domed Gruen clock at the bottom has been preserved. The diamond in the middle was recreated and even the paint color is standard for these mass-produced signs. For comparison, here’s this intact sign in Canton, MS:
Back soon with more signs from the SCA section… starting with the Donuts pages.
There are only a couple of noteworthy changes to the Giant Foods section. This giant apple was at Rokeby Orchards Aylmer, ON. The business closed in 2020 and the apple is gone now:
This giant ice cream cone was on a front lawn in Corpus Christi, TX since at least 2007. It was decorated and painted for different holidays. It’s gone now:
From the Bus Stations section — the Greyhound station in Bakersfield, CA was demolished in July:
The former Greyhound station in Daytona Beach, FL was repainted earlier this year:
The former Greyhound station in Wichita, KS…:
has been remodeled and it’s not good:
Maybe it’s not done yet — but the plans don’t look much better. Why is grey such a popular color? And that wood siding – ugh! – why? and for an architectural firm no less!:
The long-vacant former Greyhound in Baltimore, MD is now being renovated for SquashWise:
The former Greyhound station in Clarksdale, MS began housing a Wingstop earlier this year (as evidenced by the new pole sign):
Around 2020, this Greyhound station in Corvallis, OR closed and the sign was removed:
And now — remodeled as a State Farm office:
Moving on to the Bottling Plant section. This former Coca-Cola bottling plant in Frederick, MD is now housing the Cugino Forno pizza restaurant:
The Pepsi bottling plant in New Bern, NC was demolished in 2020:
I hope someone saved the mosaic:
The Coca-Cola plant in Paris, TX has replaced its signs. Here’s what it looked like before 2022:
The Coca-Cola plant in Tyler, TX might have also been getting some crappy plastic signs ready when the Google car shot it last in April. The metal letters in my photo below are gone now but the revolving pole sign is still there (for now):
I’ll be back soon with another post for Drive-in Theatres and some Signs (the SCA article companion pages section).
Here we go — on with this next project: combing my website to find broken links and what’s gone/remodeled/repainted/restored. If you are new to my winter posts, this is how it works. I go through every page’s links and maps starting with the smallest sections — building up ever so slowly to the signs and midcentury modern sections (the two biggest). This project usually takes about 4 or 5 months of steady, daily work.
So, starting with the small ones first. The Paul Bunyan statues, Statue Collections, and Tiki sections went pretty much unscathed. But this detail on the side of the Freaky Boutiki in San Diego, CA (now a tattoo studio) is gone now:
From the Giant Containers section… these barrels were located at the La Botte Italian restaurant in Lompoc, CA were demolished last year when the restaurant moved across the street:
The giant wine bottle at the Boondocks Lounge in Tucson, AZ got a new paint job earlier this year. Here’s what it looked like in 2012:
And now at Google Street View:
The giant Coca-Cola bottle caps canopy at the Mellow Mushroom in Chattanooga, TN have been repainted. I don’t know if Coca-Cola corporate had any role in the decision. Here’s what they looked like previously:
The Coffee Pot Espresso building in Gleed, WA now houses a pizza place. The drive-thru building has been expanded but the coffee pot is still there.
The former Frostop in Tucson, AZ has housed at least four different restaurants since 2008. The building and mug were repainted for each new tenant. Here it is in 2008:
If you are wondering about those partially covered up poles on the building — this is what the building would have looked like originally — this former Frostop in Springfield, OH was demolished around 2018:
Despite the efforts of preservationists, the former Chili Bowl in Los Angeles, CA was demolished in February. That leaves only two of the 23 chili bowl-shaped buildings left (in Alhambra and Glendale). Here was the building with the original sign frame in 2013:
Whew! That was a heavy lift. These five-week trips take a solid, every day effort for four months. I’m happy to have another 4,000 photos up at my website and glad I can move on to the winter project (more about that later). So, let’s get on with the last batch of photos.
Some signs from Colorado Springs:
I don’t know the original businesses for these two:
This place was originally the 4-U Court:
The former Dun Rovin’ Motel has been adapted for the Dun Rovin’ Plaza used car lot:
Next door at Boulevard Liquors:
At the Red Pine Motel:
This sign-topper is at the Dive Inn:
Two from the Surplus for Less:
This sign was still fairly intact in 2015 — from Google Street View:
… but now:
A sad outcome but….maybe glass half full. I guess. The original…
… Now in the lobby of a new apartment building on the former site:
And now, for some non-signs. This giant rubber duck, aka Quackals, is at the Quick Quack Car Wash in Colorado Springs. There were 30 locations in Utah, Texas, California, and Colorado. I don’t know how many of these ducks were made but there were a couple of others in Amarillo, TX which I shot that seem to be gone now.
There are about 8 different Humpty Dumpty statues in downtown Colorado Springs:
The Riverboat Car Wash in Denver:
This teepee is at the corner of the Arapahoe Library in Centennial:
Lastly, a former Sinclair gas station (yes, the Phillips 66 design but they were Sinclairs in Colorado) in Denver that was adapted for the Snarf’s Sandwiches chain:
And with that… I’ll be moving on to the annual website updating project. This gruesome but necessary task will take every moment of free time until the spring. It’s part of my grand effort to keep my website as current as possible. I check all the external links to make sure they all work (delete the ones that have gone away), split up the pages that have gotten ridiculously long, and check all the clickable maps in the descriptions to see the most current views. If stuff has been demolished, remodeled, repainted, etc., I update the descriptions and add blog posts here with the “news.” Granted, it’s mostly depressing stuff but maybe it’s motivating as well to encourage you to preserve or at least photograph what’s out there while you can.
Some facts about this trip: in 33 days, we covered 19,971 miles (about 605 mi. per day). Gator consumed $5746 in gas, plus four oil changes, and two tires.
If you’re wondering where the “kids” and I will be heading NEXT June…. I’ll be heading back to Colorado and then moving on to Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, and Illinois. Before all that, I’ll do some local California trips. In the spring, I plan on taking a four-day Reno roadtrip/roadtest to make sure that Gator is ready for the Big One.