Website Updates: Mid-Century Modern (part 1)

I had a fantastic, five-week roadtrip to the South and got back a week ago. I posted a sampling of photos each night at Instagram if you’d like to check it out:
https://www.instagram.com/roadarch_com/

Before I proceed with blog posts about the trip and adding about 4,000 new photos to my website, I’m going to polish off this grueling annual project of updating my website descriptions with all the good news (rare) & bad news (mostly) from the maps and cleaning up any dead external links. This is the only section left but it will probably take several weeks. So, hang in there! Loads of current photos of all the stuff that survives is coming!

The “A” states went unscathed but there are some noteworthy updates to the California pages. This former Fremont Bank (in Fremont) was demolished around 2020:

This San Diego County Courthouse building was demolished in 2020. A new courthouse building had been built earlier:


The Aztec mosaic created by Max Tuttle on this office building (originally, the Barkley Building) in North Hollywood has been painted. Here are a couple of my “before” photos:

Here’s what it looks like at Google Street View as of 2020. It’s now black & white and the panels on the sides of the building have been painted black. I’ll hold off full-on judgement until I see it in person but this looks awful and I much prefer the previous brown:


This wonderful little building in San Jose was demolished in 2020:

These interior light fixtures appeared to be original:

From the car wash mid-century subsection at my website… The Sparkle Car Wash in San Bernardino was repainted around 2019. I think this is actually an improvement. But the remaining, little ballies at the tops of the fins were removed which makes me very sad. The “before”:

The “after”:

The Madison Car Wash in West Hollywood was demolished in 2020. It must have been a Mister Car Wash originally.:

The fins would have had flags like this one in Houston, TX (flags gone now):

and a sign like this with a lantern integrated in the pole at the same Houston location (sign remodeled):

I don’t believe there are any Mister Car Washes that have the scripty text or lanterns. They seem to all have the boring current branding with blue backgrounds. Some of you roadside experts might recognize the company name as the one that, in recent years, bought out most of the Octopus Car Washes and removed the super cute octopus statues:

The Beach-Lin Car Wash in Anaheim was demolished in 2020. At least the same design (originally National Car Wash) survives in North Hollywood, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View:

No recent losses for Colorado, Delaware, or DC but here’s one for Connecticut (yes, the mcm section is organized in alpha order by state). The former Conty’s Drive-in in Bridgeport was mostly vacant for the last 15 years or so. It was demolished around 2019:


I’ll be picking up with Florida for the next blog post.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Signs (Part 6 – Final!)

This is a quick one. Many states had no tragedies over the past year. Here come the “W”s. The Yakima Sports Center sign in Yakima, WA:

was restored in 2019 and Google has the new StreetView up now:

Bob’s Grill in Chetek, WI closed in 2018 and this sign was removed. It was donated to the Chetek Area Historical Society:

The Chetek Cafe moved into the space and put its sign where the Bob’s sign was:

However, this sign from the old location is no longer on display. The old location was demolished:

This modern sign in Mosinee, WI was removed around 2019:

The Old Town Bar had been closed since 2013. The building in Superior, WI was demolished around 2019 and the sign was gone. It was going to be displayed inside the Thirsty Pagan bar. However, it doesn’t sound like that ever happened:

otbar.jpg (709×1037)

This sign in Charles Town, WV:

… got a little modification around 2018 — Rodeway Inn had to add their name to the middle. OK, it could have been a LOT worse:

That’s a wrap for the Signs section. All that’s left now is the biggest one with more than 450 pages: the Mid-Century Modern Buildings section. I’ll barely be able to start that one and probably won’t have time for a post. The dogs and I will be leaving on Friday for a five-week trip to The South. If you want to following along “live”, I’ll be posting a few photos every night to Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/roadarch_com/

Then, the real work will begin in July as I gradually post a few photos from each day to this blog and Flickr as I begin to add the entire treasure trove to my website (roadarch.com).

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

The camera, the laptop, the schedule, the lists, and my COVID card:

Website Updates: Signs (Part 5)

Here’s another hefty dose of recently lost signs.

Ralph Martin Shoe Repair opened in Delaware, OH in 1961 and this sign was installed in 1963. The store closed in 2019 and the sign was removed. It was sold to an antiques dealer:

The Park Lanes sign in Mansfield, OH was still there in 2018 but was gone by 2019. The bowling alley was demolished last year:

Although this hardware store in Woodward, OK was long-gone, this sign was still there until around 2019:

This sign in Jennerstown, PA was removed around 2019:

The Key Motel sign in Nashville, TN:

was repainted to read the Dive Motel in 2018. The motel itself now features retro-themed rooms and a swim club:
https://www.thedivemotel.com/

The Ironworker statue in Nashville, TN:

was repainted around 2019:

This sign at Wood’s Boots in Colorado City, TX was removed in 2019:

This sign in Conroe, TX was also removed in 2019:

This spinner sign in Thorndale, TX was still there when I took this photo in 2018. But it was gone by 2019. These signs are very rare now, just a handful are left on public display and none of them are operational. The two arms spun in opposite directions originally:

This sign in Austin, TX might have been from 1970. In 2019, the place became Big O’s Pit BBQ and this panel was replaced:

Johnny’s Sales Co. in Dallas, TX had closed by 2019 and this sign was removed. It was probably fairly modern but… so sweet:

Buck & Ruck Cut Rate Liquors in Dallas, TX had closed by 2014. Cowboy Bail Bonds now occupies the site. The neon pole sign with the bulb pole remains intact but the other sign was adapted:

This incredible sign in El Paso, TX was removed in 2020:

Cappetto’s Italian Restaurant in El Paso, TX closed in 2014. In 2018, these signs, including the giant bulb pole, were removed:

This sign in Houston, TX was removed in 2019:

This sign in Houston, TX was also removed in 2019:


So, this post gets us through my website’s signs section’s “T” states. I’m going to try to barrel through the rest of the states tomorrow to wrap up the section before the big vacation which starts on Friday.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Signs (Part 4)

Here come the “N” states. This sign in Fargo, ND disappeared around 2019. It was replaced with a boring plastic box sign for another Auto Supply store:

This one really hurts. The Swan’s Furniture sign in North Platte, NE was not there at Street View so I called them up. A storm came through in 2019 and knocked it into the street. The sign was not salvageable so they are having a smaller plastic box sign built:

Sometimes, signs just disappear. A business closes and you just never know if the sign was trashed or a collector got it or it went home with the retired or sentimental business owner. Other signs die a slow death until some ambitious business owner decides to slap their name on the sign. Usually, with the cheapest approach: some shitty fat plastic letters. And then everyone regrets leaving that beautiful sign out there although in-situ, completely vulnerable to someone with no taste at all. And with city regulations prohibiting building a sign as large at the original, really, who’s to blame them for defacing the sign to get their name on it vs. some tiny little box.

Anyhow, this sign is one of those, going, going…. gones. Here it was in Somerset, NJ, starting to look a little rough:

In 2013, someone decided to remove the neon and repaint it blue and white. But that paint didn’t last and it looked like this in 2018… then it 2020, it was gone. It was such a sweet, skinny arrow. My bet is that it was scrapped. Kinda big for a collector:

This motel in Springfield, NJ was demolished in 2017. The sign was covered up with vinyl for a bit advertising a fitness center. Then, by 2020, it was gone and a new building was on the lot. It was gorgeous at night, too:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffs4653/5681936626/:

This one in Trenton, NJ:

… was painted over by 2019 — OMG, brace yourself:

The Century 21 Motel in Las Cruces, NM was wonderful…

guess what’s there now?

The “Norge Ball” in Fargo, ND is gone now:

Finally, some good news! The Time Zone Motel in Reno, NV:

Got some TLC and new paint around 2018:

However, this sign in Las Vegas, NV:

was crappily adapted last year:

The Rummel Motel sign in Las Vegas, NV was removed last year. I don’t know if it wound up at the Neon Museum or if it was scrapped:

These signs in Las Vegas, NV were vintage holdouts. The restaurant closed last year and these were removed. I don’t believe any of the surviving locations have these:

That’s a wrap for this post. I’ll be picking up with the “O” states for the next one. I think I can squeeze in a couple more posts before the big summer trip (starts June 4).

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Signs (Part 3)

Ready for another strong dose of reality?

The Frontier Motel in Oberlin, KS was still there in 2018:


But by last year, here’s the crap that replaced the neon panels and arrow:

Damn. Another one that I never got to shoot which has been on my list for years. This Woodburg Drugs sign was in Dawson Springs, KY:

A couple of things out of order that I’ll sneak in here. In my little hometown of Ventura, CA, one of the few neon signs just got scalped. Here’s what it looked like until a few weeks ago (the plastic backlit plastic vertical “Motel” above this was not original):

And now — they didn’t even spare the neon “loops” on the side of the sign facing traffic:

I’m also wrapping up the latest article for the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) Journal with house signs (“Home Sweet Home”) and I’ve just picked out the feature signs for the next article on Clock Signs. While organizing the new companion page at my website for that print article, I discovered that the former Elgin clock sign in Pendleton, OR is gone now:


I’m still adding info to the House signs page and I’ve started the Clocks sign section. If you interested in either one, here are the links:

https://www.roadarch.com/sca/home.html

https://www.roadarch.com/sca/clocks.html

All of the Benny’s Home & Auto locations closed in 2017. This letters on this sign in Raynham, MA were removed in 2018 and then by 2019, the sign was gone:

This sign in Hamtramck, MI:


was stripped of its neon and charm and looks like this now:

Dingman’s Bar in Kalkaska, MI burned to the ground in 2018:

The North Pole Bar in Duluth, MN closed and these cute signs are gone:

This beautiful vitrolite facade in Faribault, MN:

had the gorgeous Art Deco lettering removed for a clothing/gift shop/check cashing place. At least they left the “Jewelers Since 1925” in place:

A whole bunch of bad news from Montana. I never got to shoot this one. Removing it from my list for next summer. The Golden Spike Bar in Havre, MT was remodeled in 2019 and I guess they thought the old sign shaped like a railroad spike had to go? Here’s a photo from my pal Jasperdo:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mytravelphotos/14498065190

Another one gone in Havre, MT by 2019 that I didn’t get to shoot. Here’s a photo of the VFW sign from my friend Alan:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/732mpd/6241817969/

I was really looking forward to seeing this one. It looks like the bulbs & neon were in good shape. Maybe by some miracle, they are restoring it? However, it’s so big (what, 40 feet wide?) that I can’t imagine going to that trouble of taking it to a shop & returning it instead of restoring in place. So, the Vacationer Motel in Kalispell, MT got a new coat of beige paint and this guy is apparently gone. Here’s a photo from my pal, Seth:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sethgaines/6716676391/


Here’s a nice vintage postcard just to make it worse:

Another one gone — in Missoula, MT. The Lucky Strike Casino building was replaced with a new brand new Dairy Queen.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/huntsmaniii/2856835069/

Another one gone — in Shelby, MT — at least Alan got a shot:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/732mpd/6255319453/

That’s enough tragedy for one post. I’ll be back, probably over the weekend, with a new post starting with the “N” states.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Signs (Part 2)

More signs, more mostly bad news. Let’s start with Colorado. This sign in Byers, CO had the word “Restaurant” and the coffee cup removed around 2019:

This sign in Denver, CO:

The Lumber Guy closed in 2014. By 2019, this sign had been adapted for an art center:

The Town & Country Motel in Denver, CO was demolished:

The Arrow Motel in Orlando, FL:

had its neon removed and backlit plastic letters were added in 2018:

This sign at Road Machinery & Supplies Co. in Cedar Rapids, IA disappeared by 2019:

This Fraternal Order of Eagles sign in Clinton, IA was removed around 2019. I don’t know of any FOE signs with the neon on the side like this. The other side had the E where the eagle is on this panel:

This sign in Davenport, IA:

was adapted in 2019 for this:

The panels for this sign in Keokuk, IA were gone by 2019:

This sign in Blackfoot, ID was gone by 2018:

The Inland Lounge sign in Kellogg, ID:

was restored around 2017. Here’s its current look:

Tino’s Shoe Repair in Ottawa, IL closed around 2019 and this sign is gone now:

King’s Home Furnishing’s in Waukegan, IL closed in 2019 and the signs are gone:

I foolishly didn’t shoot the two panels on the building back in 2011 when I shot the rooftop sign but an old Google Street View photo shows them:

This one in Chicago, IL has been on my to-shoot list for years but now it’s too late. There in 2018 — gone in 2019:

The Rainbo Lanes in Elkhart, IN was renamed The Arena in 2014. Those circles were once bowling balls that were sequentially lit towards the pin:

There’s a big gap after 2013 at Google Street View but the new 2019 image shows this — neon gone, the entire sign pained over and crappy letter panels tacked to the sign:

That’s it for this post. I’m picking up in the Signs section with the “K” states for the next one.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Signs (Part 1)

Here come the signs — break out the Kleenex. Not much good news to share for this batch.

This sign in Conway, AR disappeared around 2020:

The Silver Peso sign in Larkspur, CA:

was repainted by 2020:

The neon letters on the Ben’s Liquor sign in Reseda, CA:

were replaced with backlit plastic versions around 2020. The sign on the building also had neon previously:

The Dainty Pastry sign in Roseville, CA:

changed names in 2011 and was partially covered up with crappy vinyl:

But it gets worse. It was adapted or replaced in 2020 for this:

Ready for another loss? The Tahiti Motel in Stanton, CA:

There were at least two other signs in Anaheim , CA that had the same design – both gone now. Around 2018, the neon and star were removed from the Tahiti sign. New plastic panels were installed. Then, around 2020, backlit plastic letters were added. Here’s what the sign looks like now:

These two signs in Watsonville, CA were removed around 2020. There’s a flooring store there now:

This one hurts. I loved this sign in Wilmington, CA. It had ripple tin panels and was originally backlit, possibly with opal glass letters originally. Probably from the 1920s. It looks like it disappeared last year:

The Big Star Motel in Fresno, CA:

had its neon removed and was repainted around 2020:

The U-Save Liquor sign on Tulare Ave. in Fresno, CA was one of the few in the chain that still had neon:

Until around last year — now plasticized:

The Paradise Center sign in Fresno, CA:

… is not the same without its ballies. It looks like this happened last year:

The Manor Shopping Center sign in San Leandro, CA was toppled by winds and carted away a few months ago. It seems unlikely that we will see it again:

Ernie’s Seafood in San Leandro, CA closed last year and the sign is gone:

This bar sign in Los Angeles, CA at The Griffin was probably modern. It appears that the place closed last year and the sign is gone now:

This sign in East Los Angeles, CA:

was horribly adapted for another market around last year:

This beauty in Oakland, CA:

was stripped of neon and backlit plastic letters added in 2019:

In Sacramento, CA, this building was demolished in 2020 and the signs are gone:

In 2020, the building that housed the Avenue Inn in Stockton, CA was demolished. This sign is gone:

Another loss in Stockton, CA. The Knotty Pine Motel sign:

… replaced with this backlit plastic box last year:

Let’s end with a couple of losses from Canada. The Macintosh Cleaners in Kitchener, ON had beautiful vitrolite tiles and a cool canopy. Unfortunately, the only photos that I got were on a rainy day:

The place closed in 2015. It was renovated in 2020 but all that remains is the canopy:

A couple of weeks ago, the Ernie’s Coffee Shop sign in Sault Ste. Marie, ON was hit by a truck, badly damaged, and removed. It’s not known if this one will be back:

I’m only in the “C”s in the signs section so I have a long way to go. I’ll see how far I can get before the big June roadtrip which is less than three weeks away.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs

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