I’ve made a lot of progress in my winter website updating. I’ve scrutinized all of the most recent Google Street View maps for all of the sections to find out what’s been demolished, repainted, restored, etc. I’ll share some of the updates in the next few blog posts. I’ll warn you though, most of the news is sad. But maybe that will be a motivator to get out there and shoot what you can while it’s still around or fight to keep what survives.
All of the photos in these posts were taken by me unless indicated. So, please don’t lift them for Pinterest, other blogs, or whatever. Instead, go to my website so you can find more photos of the places along with their histories. My white keyword search box at the top left of any page makes it super easy to find anything specific or search by city if you’re planning an upcoming trip. If you are new around here, this is my blog. My website is way bigger and very organized:
Let’s start with some mid-century modern building losses.
The Ken Wilson Chevrolet dealership building in Vestal, NY is no more. It was built in 1964 and featured a phenomenal hyperbolic paraboloid roof (aka “saddle roof”). It went vacant around 2010 and we all held our breath hoping some cool restaurant or hipster store would move in. But the wrecking ball had its way in 2016. My photo from 2010:
The jumbo geodesic dome in Warwick, RI was built in 1962 to shelter airport equipment and vehicles. It was taken apart in 2016 with the hope that it will be reassembled one day. I’m doubtful. My photo from 2010:
The Firestone tire store in Mountain View, CA was built in 1963 and demolished last year. The store had closed around 2010 and sat vacant after that. My photo below is from 2014 after the big red and white bowtie pole sign and freestanding rooftop Firestone letters had been removed.
The good news is that there’s still a scalloped roof like this at the Firestone in Costa Mesa, CA. I believe it’s the only one left. The neon letters are now backlit plastic but hey… My photo from 2013:
The mcm Firestone in Denver, CO is also still there:
The St. Louis, MO location with same design (red & white tile, neon letters, & sawtooth canopy) still survives. If you’re interested in Firestone, Goodyear, and other tire stores from around the country, I’ve got hundreds of them from all eras at my website here:
Let’s talk theatres for a moment. One tragic loss was the Strand Theatre on the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ. It was built in 1938 and featured this ultra cool round marquee and ticket booth. In 1989, it was divided into five screens and became the Strand 5. It closed in 2013 and sat vacant until last year when it was “remodeled” for a pizza place (second photo below courtesy of Google Street View):
OK — let’s move on to some signs.
Zubler’s Indian Craft Shop in Houghton Lake, MI was one of those fun, touristy, non-PC gift shops with mini teepees and Indian war dance performances. I’m assuming it had been there since the 1950s or so. The store closed in 2016 and the totem poles, Indian statues, and this sweet sign are gone now:
A couple of Texas losses. This orphaned sign in Mission, TX is gone now. Any building which could have been a bus station was missing for at least a decade. This sign stood guard over a parking lot when this photo was taken in 2011:
The neon cockroach sign in Austin, TX at Robert’s Termite & Pest disappeared last year. It was built in 1996 by Evan Voyles (retro neon sign designer for The Neon Jungle). So, I’m hoping he has it now:
A few Ohio losses. The Colonial Lanes in Canton, OH closed last year and, shortly after that, this sign disappeared. In 2001, the sign still had neon and secondary panels:
The Louie’s Liquors sign in Lima, OH disappeared last year, too:
The Young & Bertke Air Systems sign in Cincinnati, OH is gone. The original sign was built in 1926 and it was rebuilt a few times. Youbert’s mechanical arms and legs moved — as shown in this mini video:
The company moved in 2013 and had promised Tod at the American Sign Museum in town that the sign would eventually be donated. However, the sign disappeared in 2016 and not even Tod knows what happened to it. I suspect it was destroyed.
Barringer’s Tavern in Indianapolis, IN closed last year and this lovely sign was swiftly removed. I’m hoping that the owner or a collector has it:
The Culver Ice Arena in Culver City, CA opened in 1962. This sign was erected then:
The place closed in 2014. Last year, the sign was adapted for the new tenant, a Harbor Freight store. The top panel was replicated and the snowflake beneath it and some other building details were spared. From Google Street View:
As for the skater that was perched on the roof of the ice rink, her location is unknown. She is supposedly in storage. The statue was originally installed at an Ice Capades office in Hollywood:
Let’s end this post on a positive note. The Hugo Liquors store in Hugo, CO opened in 1954 with this sign. This photo is from 2012. The sign was painstakingly restored last year.
If you are into more positive sign news, I have been writing the quarterly column (Sign Snippets) for the Society for Commercial Archeology‘s Roadnotes newsletter since 2009. I usually feature three or four signs that have been restored. I also have a sidebar with each column that covers all the recent losses, restorations, adaptations, etc. around the country. For more about the organization and how to join, here’s a link:
If you just want a sampling before splurging on a membership, you can pick up a copy or two back issues of the twice-yearly Journal here:
I’m working on another blog post about signs and just might have that ready later tonight.
dj & the dogs