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 Putt-Putt in Lake Charles, LA got hit by two hurricanes in 2020 but they are back in action. Here’s StreetView soon after the hurricane. It looks like the roof of the building on the left was badly damaged:
It’s a delightfully vintage place with the classic Putt-Putt overhead lights, fun statues, and old-school obstacles/holes. It’s only about 5 miles off I-10 if you are traveling between Houston and New Orleans:
Clifton Park Golf in Clifton Park, NY was sold to a developer in 2017. The driving range, cute statues and mini golf courses, etc. are all gone now:
Moving on to Diners. This sweet little Valentine diner in Colorado Springs, CO is gone now. I scoured the internet and could not find if it was moved or demolished:
This Valentine diner in Pueblo, CO got a vibrant paint job recently. From this:
This one comes as no surprise. The Whitehouse Diner in Whitehouse Station, NJ had been abandoned since the early 2000s and probably even longer. It was demolished last year:
This diner was saved and trucked from Schodack, NY to Duanesburg, NY in 2010. It was going to be restored and displayed at the Canal Street Station Village Museum. But it was still sitting on blocks in 2019. But now, in the 2021 Street View — it’s gone. I’ve dug around online and sent a few emails but no info. Apparently, the guy who was working on the museum, Joe Merli, passed away in 2016 and I think that was that.
This Valentine diner in White Sulphur Springs, WV has gone by many names since it was installed here in 1952:
It closed around 2016 and was vacant for many years. I feared the worst. But no! In 2019, it reopened as Road Hog’s Barbeque. They’ve added a big dining area behind the diner. I think the interior’s eight stools and original metal cabinets are gone :
That’s it for these two sections. The next post we’ll be covering giant animal statues.
Moving on to the Giant Things section which includes statues, buildings shaped like things, etc. The giant statues of people and animals will come later in these update posts.
From the Giant Boots page: Quality Shoe Repair in Los Angeles closed last year and this Boot Car is gone now. It was parked inside the store for the last few years. I don’t know if it was still drive-able at that point. I’m hoping that this guy is now at the Henderson, NV location where there are other shoe-themed cars:
From the Fake Castles section: this building in Pahrump, NV was demolished in 2019:
From the Fake Lighthouses section: this lighthouse in Crothersville, IN was demolished last year. The Lighthouse Tabernacle is building a new church on the site and this guy was apparently removed during construction:
The long-vacant Beacon Oil building in Bayonne, NJ was demolished last year:
From the Various Giant Things pages… the Giant Pencil in Pittsburgh, PA is gone now. The Top Notch Art Centre store closed in 2019 and in 2020 the storefront was remodeled.
These giant glasses in Xenia, OH are gone now. A different eye doctor has moved in:
This Giant Kachina was one of a pair in Williams, AZ at the Canyon Trading Post. The buildings and Kachinas were demolished in 2017:
From the Giant Paint Cans page, Hamline Hardware in St. Paul, MN closed in 2020 and the covering on the paint can has been removed. There was originally a handle and it revolved. When a new tenant is found, this can will probably be removed:
The Siperstein Paint store in North Plainfield, NJ had five paint cans originally. By 2009, only two cans were left. And now… there are none.
Moving on to the Dinosaurs section. This bronze statue in Holbrook, AZ is gone now:
Finally, some good news! This wonderful and gigantic guy in Oklahoma City, OK was installed in 1996 at Statuary World. The place closed in 2020 and everything was auctioned off. This statue was sold for $5,000 and moved to Yukon, OK. Here he was in OKC:
and now — a bright blue — at Jameson’s in Yukon:
I’m in the mid-sized sections now which have between 70-100 pages. I’m hoping to finish this mega project by the end of next month. I’m itching to take some little roadtrips and take some new photos but I want to plow through this first.
Back to the SCA section at my website. I’m happy to report that of the 53 pages in this section, there were only a few tragedies. From the Pancakes page — the Uncle John’s Pancake House in Toledo, OH was reworked last year — from this:
… to this with the bulbs removed, the white border covered up, the top plastic panel now painted. I’m guessing that’s LED instead of neon but I can’t quite tell. At least the rooftop sign with bulbs wasn’t touched.
From the Pizza Chef page — this neon skeleton sign at Niki’s Pizza in Pittsburgh, PA was removed around 2020 when a new pizza place moved in:
From the Sputnik Signs pages, the sputnik at Monica’s Bakery in Long Beach, CA is gone now — and so is the giant pole sign that supported it. I suspect car accident:
This sputnik at Rabe’s Service Station in Edgewood, TX is now in a private collection:
This C-152 Lectra (and the entire pole sign) in Cleveland, TX is gone now. Last year, Shiloh’s Restaurant moved in with a boring little plastic sign:
From the Skating Signs page: Star Skate in Norman, OK closed last year. This sign is still there but the panels are now missing:
Before we move on to the next section, here are are couple of very recent transformations. The Sea Jay Motel sign in Treasure Island, FL is now all backlit plastic:
The Lu Fran Motel sign in Wildwood, NJ will either be sold or scrapped by the end of the week:
I’ll be back soon with updates to the Giant Things section.
From the Cars Signs page, Hawkes Motors in Boise, ID moved last year and the sign was brought along. The readerboard and original sign pole stayed behind. The text panel changed a bit. Here’s the before:
and the after:
This modern sign in Austin, TX was removed around 2021 when the shop closed:
From the Diving Women page — the Dive Bar in San Jose, CA closed in 2021 and this modern sign is gone now:
Last year, the former Motel Birmingham in Birmingham, AL was demolished and this sign is gone:
On to the Donut Signs section. This painted wall sign for Hunt’s Donuts in San Francisco, CA was uncovered in 2011. It was painted over last year:
Jessie’s Donuts in River Oaks, TX closed around 2019:
The sign has been covered up with new panels for Cherry Kitchen & Catering. The lower panels have been removed:
This former Mister Donut building and sign in San Jose, CA were demolished last year:
The long-abandoned Mister Donut in Cleveland, OH was also demolished last year. Not a surprise since the building was in miserable shape. The building and sign would have looked like this originally:
I shot the place in 2005 when things were a tiny bit nicer:
The entrance canopy had been lying on the ground since 2019:
Moving on to the Extension Signs section (signs with neon tubing that extends off the face of the sign)…. the B&B Discount Liquor sign in Memphis, TN is gone. The building is now housing a restaurant. Here’s what the sign looked like in 2011. Note the man on the top left with the animated pointing arm and bowtie. The bottle on the right had sequentially lit rings. The bottle’s plastic panels were blown out by 2018.
From the House Signs page… this sign in McCammon, ID was removed or destroyed around 2018 when a Family Dollar opened on the lot:
That’s enough pain for one post. I’ll be back with more soon.
It’s me again already. I’m barreling through this annual website link & map checking. I’ve got a bunch of mostly bad news from the Drive-in Movie Theatres section. A storm in Joliet, IL in July destroyed much of the long-closed Hill-Top Drive-in. I’m betting they will knock down what’s left of the screentower. Here’s the before from my website:
the after from Google Maps:
There’s not much left now of the Paoli Drive-in screentower in Paoli, IN which closed around 2001. My photo from 2009:
and the latest Street View from earlier this year:
The cool ticket booth at the Starway Drive-in in Frankfurt, KY was demolished around last year:
The sign is still there but the property is for sale:
The Redland Drive-in in Lufkin, TX was demolished last year. A big pile of dirt where the screen and sign were:
The Sky Vue Drive-in in Tyler, TX opened in 2007 and this sign was built then. It closed in 2017 and this sign disappeared sometime after 2019:
The long-closed Skyline Drive-in in Clarksburg, WV…
… got a new arrow recently:
Moving on to the Tire Stores section. This mid-century Firestone in Los Angeles, CA on Highland closed around 2019 and the signs were removed. There was a big neon bowtie sign as well as the freestanding neon letters. The building was demolished last year:
The neon letters on this Firestone store in Wichita, KS were replaced with plastic signs around 2019. The neon bowtie sign remains:
The Firestone in Brooklyn, NY was built in 1936. It closed in 2020. I actually went here a few times for repairs. Here’s a photo that I took just a couple of months before I moved to California in 2012:
And here’s a photo from the latest Street View. A demolition permit has been filed so this one seems doomed. There are very few of these Firestone buildings with the jumbo canopies left:
This midcentury modern Firestone in Millcreek, UT closed around 2019:
The building now houses Marissa’s Book Store:
These Goodyear panels and letters in Holyoke, MA were removed last year:
For those of you that have been waiting for Signs, there will be some coming in the next post. The next section will be the SCA section, the companion pages to the SCA articles that I’ve written about signs for more than 15 years. Hopefully, there won’t be too many losses and there will be some good news there somewhere.
I’ve got this summer’s trip maps and lists all plotted out. Now, I just have to wait for June! I’ll take some warm-up California trips in the Spring. In the meantime, it’s time to pound away at the website, checking all the links and maps and updating descriptions. I’m starting off with the smaller sections moving on to the giant ones. This annual project usually takes about six months.
There were no changes to the Paul Bunyan statues, Egyptian Revival, or the Fairy Tale Park sections. But here’s one loss from the Collections statues section. The four sculptures in Pomeroy, WA are gone now. Here are just a couple of them:
Moving on to the Tiki Buildings & Statues section. The former Kelbo’s Hawaiian BBQ restaurant and sign in Los Angeles, CA were demolished in 2019. Boring apartments will be going up in their place.
On to the faux TeePees section. This one in Kanab, UT has been transformed from this:
to this — I guess a rock formation?
From the Giant Containers section… some good news. The Barrel House Liquors facade in Washington, DC had been covered up since 2016 when the liquor store moved to a smaller space next door. Here’s a photo I took in 2004:
There were plans to make it the entrance to a big apartment complex above but that fell through. In October, it was announced that a Foxtrot gourmet convenience store was going to move into the space. The facade has finally been uncovered and it’s such a relief to see the neon sign and barrel from 1945 again! They are landmarked, so, Foxtrot will have to preserve the features:
The Giant Six-Pack of Beer in Laredo, TX has been repainted many times over the years. Here’s what it looked like when it was vacant in 2018:
and last month:
From the Giant Food section… the giant garlic at the Quarter Bistro and the building itself in Ann Arbor, MI are gone:
This giant burger at Burger Urge in San Francisco, CA is gone. A Middle Eastern restaurant is there now:
The Giant Ice Cream in Ardmore, OK is gone now. The Cloverleaf was a great, eclectic store which closed in 2018. Just about everything is gone now as per Google Street View’s 2021 map.
From the Bus Station section…. the downtown Denver, CO Greyhound station was demolished a few months ago:
From the Beverage Bottling Plants section… the former Coca-Cola bottling plant in Gastonia, NC…
… as The Dillinger office and retail space, restaurants, and apartments:
This former Coca-Cola bottling plant in Asbury Park, NJ was demolished last year:
This former Canada Dry bottling plant in Seattle, WA was demolished last year. There are only about three of these buildings left:
The Pepsi-Cola bottling plant in Portland, OR was built in 1962. The building on the left is being adapted for retail space. However the barrel roof building on the right will not be saved…. why??!!! It sure seems just as significant to me:
That’s enough news for one post. Back with more soon.
I’m tying together the last three days of this summer’s trip into one mega post. Two of the days were light anyway since I was scurrying home in time for work. Before we move on to the photos, let’s do the standard factual summary that I do for the final post from all these trips. 36 days 16,007miles with $2,992 spent on gas (I don’t keep track of the food/motel $$) – which means that Gator averaged 18.7mpg; [last year’s summer trip was 14,798 miles] additional expenses: a redlight ticket in Florida $161, a speeding ticket in Louisiana ($220 but a $40 online course keeps my driving record clean) approximately 4,200 photos (which are all up at the website now!!)
Dairy Boy was an Oklahoma chain, established in 1957. There were more than 165 locations by the early 1960s but there are now only two left operating. This one is in Okemah, OK:
When the Lexington, OK location closed in 2013, it was repainted and moved to Okemah. This is the last of the “running boy” signs known to exist:
This sign in Jackson, TN. It was probably installed in 1973 when the business opened:
These signs in Fort Smith, AR are probably from the 1950s:
This former Phillips 66 in Fort Smith, AR had been a skanky car wash in recent years. In 2019, it was given this artistic treatment:
I believe there were only three of these Pizza Parlour locations built. This sign in Van Buren, AR was badly damaged recently (weather?). The clown panels revolved originally:
The one in Fort Smith is gone but, fortunately, the one in Alma is still in good shape – my photo from 2019:
This sign in Little Rock, AR originally advertised for Tedford Drugs. You can see the “Drugs” showing thru in the bottom panel. The building has been vacant since at least 2007 so I don’t know how much longer this sign will be around. Apparently, this sign revolved — that looks like a motor box below:
This sign is in Okahoma City. It’s not clear if this place is still open. The only other signs on the building are for pagers from the 1980s. Still no name or info after much digging at Google. Maybe shorthand for “Knight Market”?
This sign in Oklahoma City is probably from the late 1960s. That’s when this business relocated to their current location:
This sign in Oklahoma City went up in 2011. The pizza is animated:
This sign in Thomas, OK is adorable and wonderful in so many ways. The letters are/were all backlit plastic:
and so is the owl himself:
The flashing bulb arrow was one of probably thousands produced by Superior Outdoor Display in Long Beach, CA and sold all over the country:
This building in Oklahoma City was originally a gas station, built in the early 1930s. It was part of the Owl Courts motel and cafe complex. It was vacant for years. Last year, the building began housing a coffee shop. At the same time, the motel rooms behind the former station were either rebuilt or adapted for retail space:
The Pecos Theatre in Santa Rosa, NM had been vacant for many years. The County purchased the building in 2016. In 2019, these new signs were installed and the movie theatre reopened:
There were thousands of these Shell gas station signs around the country in the 1960s. There are just a few left on public display now. This one in Elk City, OK is pretty faded. Tletters and background were red originally. There’s no sign of a gas station so it was probably just moved here by someone that saved it:
The porcelain enamel panels on this Rexall sign in Shamrock, TX has held up incredibly well. Many of these orange & navy Rexall signs had neon. But these guys were cheaper and less maintenance since they were lit by overhead tubes:
The Westland Theatre in Elk City, OK housed an office supply store for many years. The building appears to be vacant now. The building is still in good shape and there’s a neon blade sign. The tubing holes on this marquee sign indicates how nice it must have been:
I’m crazy about phony castle buildings and have dozens of them at my website. Here’s one in Albuquerque, NM that I believe was built as a storage place in 1985:
Nearly home! Here are a couple of signs from Needles, CA:
I just put up another 40 photos today from these last three days of the trip over at Flickr (different photos from those above):
My next big project: initial planning next year’s June trip which will focus on Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas with some other states to/from. Some Canada might happen (depending on what happens with COVID travel restrictions).
After I get those lists and maps put together, I will move on to the gruesomely tedious annual task of checking every single map link and external links at my website to see what’s changed since last winter (buildings/signs/statues — demolished/repainted/restored) and update descriptions accordingly. I’ll also be simultaneously posting those typically depressing posts here with the “news”. Usually, I just get this huge project done (or nearly done) in time for the next big summer trip. But there will also be some small California trips in the spring for welcome relief from the keyboard.
Best wishes to everyone for 2022!
Happy trails, dj & the dogs
One of our fave local beaches (Bates Beach in Carpinteria):
My dogs’ fave hobby (chasing and abusing their racecar which does about 40mph on the grass):
This was one of the last big shooting days at the end of the trip. I had decided to skip Northern Alabama for now and get a wee bit of Tennessee in instead. Retirement is about six years away and I’m so looking forward to not having to make these tough decisions in order to frantically drop what I’m doing and hustle the interstates back in time for work-on-Monday.
This sign in Dalton, GA previously advertised for the Downtown Motor Inn. It may have been used for something else before that. I’m glad that they kept the rocks and the Swiss or German guy with the lantern. I’m imagining more of a chalet text panel on top. There was a readerboard where the digital display is now.
The Big V Restaurant is in Chatsworth, GA:
I’m sure this Best Jewelers sign in Rossville, GA was a beauty originally with neon and possible bulbs on the arrow:
The display cases are still very nice:
This sign in Chattanooga, TN was originally built for a Jiffy Drive-in. There would have been a neon chef on top of the oval panel. The Jiffy Drive-in name would have been on the oval with the word “HAMBURGERS” on the rectangular panel:
This barn in Flintstone, GA advertises for the nearby Rock City tourist attraction. This barn advertising campaign started in 1935 and nearly 1000 barns were painted. However, I think this is a modern version since I don’t see it at the barns map at this website:
This sign in Chattanooga, TN has definitely fallen on hard times. I can’t find any vintage photos or postcards of this one but I’m sure the neon and bulbs were pretty:
Sam’s Burger Deli in Rome, GA featured two Gulfstream jet dining rooms…
and a vintage VW Microbus with wings, tail and propeller wheels:
The Adco Motel is in Chatsworth, GA. There was originally a readerboard panel and a longer arrow originally. It looks like an AAA seal-of-approval neon logo also:
This Norge Ball in Dalton, GA was restored after the owner found my webpages about these signs. When he learned that only one of these was still lit and spinning, he decided to get his going again. However, just months after that, there was a major water heater fire inside the building. The place was closed from that event when I took photos there this summer. However, it has reopened and I’m hoping that the sign is back working again:
The Ellis Restaurant in Chattanooga, TN has been closed around 1979 and the sign has mostly been neglected since then. An ambitious owner decided to at least restore the frogs in 2017:
The letters at the KK’s Pawn Shop in Manchester, TN came from Big K department stores. For more about the chain — see this website:
The Oakwood Cafe in Dalton, GA opened at this location in the 1940s. This looks to be a replica sign:
This Masonic Lodge sign is in Ringgold, GA:
How about a couple of gas stations? This one in Chattanooga, TN was originally a Pan-Am station — easily recognizable by the horizontal bands around the building:
This Starbucks was built as a Cities Service station across the street from the Rock City tourist attraction at Lookout Mountain, GA. At some point, it was castled-up a bit and the rooftop sign was removed:
Roy’s Grill in Rossville, GA has opened and closed countless times in recent years. It opened in 1934 as a Krystal hamburger place. I don’t know when it became Roy’s but this building was constructed during road-widening in 1949. It was looking great this summer — both inside and out:
These vacuum form, backlit plastic signs were mass-produced and I can’t get enough of them. I’m guessing there were hundreds, if not thousands, but there are only maybe a dozen left on public display. This one is in Signal Mountain, GA:
I have never been able to figure the original tenant out for this sign in Chattanooga, TN despite all my Google and Newspapers.com searches. This was Soup’s On when I first shot it in the early 2000s. I love the ribbon shape and I assume there was some neon on this guy originally. And then later lit with that light up on top:
This beauty in Chattanooga was originally an American National Bank & Trust Co. branch, built in 1953:
The Town & Country Center shopping center in Chattanooga was built in the late 1950s, I think. The “CENTER” letters originally had neon and the top panels were corrugated plastic with plastic letters on top reading “T’C”. But, I gotta say, the sign is sure looking better after it was restored sometime after 2018:
Most of these double-drive-thru Central Park restaurants are now occupied by other businesses. This one in Chattanooga is pretty intact. The sign panels at the top would have been taller with flags on the corners:
The wrong time of day to shoot this one (pole shadows) in Chattanooga but at least you can see the rust and raised letters. I’m betting this was always a painted sign, maybe 1940s?:
And, lastly: the WDEF-TV sign in Chattanooga from 1958. I posted the full body shot (building plus sign) at Flickr earlier today. In case you didn’t know or haven’t had time, I post different photos to Flickr right before I do these blog posts:
I’ve got three more days from this trip to Photoshop, insert into my website, and post to Flickr and this blog. I’m hoping to get that all done by the New Year but it’ll more likely be all done slightly after that.
Judging from the holes, this sign in Newnan must have had neon over the Tourist Hotel text. It looks like its probably from the 1930s or 1940s and has probably been repainted at least a few times:
This remodeled sign in Atlanta caught my attention:
I was able to find out a little bit about it when I got home. It was built for the Stewart-Lakewood Center mall, which later became the Crossroads Mall. The mall opened in 1952 but expanded over the years. This sign might be from then or the 1960s:
This beautiful green vitrolite storefront in Cedartown originally housed Woodward & Son Jewelers:
The original terrazzo floor is still there as well:
These vacuum form Gulf gas signs are super rare now. This one is in Rome. The station was skanky so I didn’t shoot/not including that:
The Candyland restaurant and gift shop chain had at least four locations in Georgia and Florida that had these cool pyramid-ish roofs:
The Lake Park building was demolished around 2020:
I got a few photos in 2010:
The restaurant building in McDonough was demolished just a few months before I got there in July but the smaller motel office building is still there (formerly Red Carpet Inn, now Howard Johnson):
The Zesto Drive-in chain was established in Jefferson City, MO in 1945. By the early 1950s, there were dozens of locations all over the country. I’ve documented all of the surviving buildings and signs at my website here:
There are about four locations still operating in the Atlanta area. These two signs are from the Forest Park location. I think they are from the early 1970s:
This Piedmont Rd. location in Atlanta was built in 1953. I’m not sure how much is original but it has a fun look anyway. I find that retro super shiny chrome stuff along the roof irritatingly faux-diner-ish but most people probably love it. I couldn’t find any 1950s photos to show if the slanty wedge roof was there in the 1950s:
I like the confetti style tile – abstracted icicles?
And the sputnik and spaceship light fixtures inside might be vintage:
This motel and sign are in Bremen. They have been there since at least the 1960, probably since the 1950s:
The Groover Shoe Repair shop is in Rome. This sign used to be part of a pole sign near the road. It’s now relegated to the side of the building. The store opened in 1940 and this sign might be from then:
There’s also a skeleton sign in the window:
This triangulated, marquee-like sign is also in Rome. There was actually a movie theatre here originally, the Gordon Theatre, from 1940-1954. The Partridge Restaurant moved here in 1962. The building’s facade has been covered with siding for decades. The restaurant closed in 2017 and the building is still vacant.
The S&S Cafeteria opened here in Atlanta in 1968. There were at least seven other locations and six are still operating in Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina. This location closed in 2018 but the signs are still there while the restaurant remains vacant:
Lastly, this little place in Griffin is known as the Griffin Dog House. It has a giant hot dog over the entrance and the split Coke bottle is installed on both sides of the building:
I’ll be back soon with a little more Georgia and some shots from Tennessee.
Happy trails, dj & the dogs
Bonus shot of me and the kids after a racecar session: