Day 23: Jacksonville Area

This is the last full day of Florida before we move on to Georgia.

Let’s start with Arnold’s Cocktail Lounge in St. Augustine. The sign is in sad shape now. It was apparently inspired by the Holiday Inn “Great Sign” and originally advertised for Roscoe’s Restaurant:

The the “Restaurant” panel was updated to read “Fun, Food & Spirits” in neon. But that panel was then patched and painted for its current look. The arrow’s flashing bulb holes were covered with neon. The remaining neon appears to be broken. But, hey, it’s still fun in its crude state:

There was also another sign at the same place which was removed around 2014. Here’s my photo from 2009:

The former Florida Bonded Pools sign in Jacksonville has been updated quite a bit since the store opened in 1957. This great article describes and shows the original sign with a giant representation of Esther Williams:

The building remains the same but the current sign was built around the 1970s. It looked like this in 2009:

Unfortunately, Oak Wells Aquatics moved in apparently earlier this year and slapped opaque painted panels with their name over the backlit text panels. Fortunately, the surfboard-shaped “Wet Set” and diver panels remain. For more diving women signs, see my website here:

This Coca-Cola bottling plant in Jacksonville was built in 1927. Coke moved to another facility in 1967. This building has been abandoned for many years, maybe even since then. For more Coca-Cola buildings in Florida (and other states), see my website here:

This sign for Haley’s Court in Vilano Beach is a real mystery. I’ve done a lot of internet pounding about this one. There are vintage postcards of the original sign which had a simple, 1940s design. It’s a crude and tiny image but there it is with its rounded panels, small top & bottom, and bullnose neon on the sides:

The sign shown below was supposedly the “original” (uh, no way 1940s…) donated to the county by the owners. It was then restored and installed near the motel’s original location. The amoeba shape would suggest 1960s but there are suspicious “retro” (i.e., faked modern to look vintage) elements. Like the fonts used, the channel design of the arrow, and what’s under that “Court” panel anyway? The sign may have been refurbished but I’m more inclined to think it’s totally a recreation. But whatever. It’s still nice to see it around no matter how “real” or old it is:

The Magic Beach Motel in Vilano Beach was built in 1951 as the Vilano Beach Motel. This sign was built in 1999 for the Safe Harbor TV show. The motel kept the sign and changed their name then. Earlier this year, the motel was sold to a developer and this will all be gone soon. Including the relief sculptures of flamingos on the office and the neon flamingo on the chimney:

The Maxwell House neon letters in Jacksonville were built in 1955. This website shows what the sign and freestanding neon cup tubing looked like:

In 1971, the 10-foot-tall letters were moved onto a screen on another side of the building, where they remain today. The 45-foot-tall dripping cup (“Good to the Last Drop”) panel with three neon drops was built then. Around 2016, the red neon was removed and replaced with LED bulbs and tubing and the drops stopped dripping. Last year, there were plans to restore the sign with better LED that could be changed for holidays and other special events. I don’t think that ever happened.

This former Lovett’s Food Store in Jacksonville was built around 1947. It later became Winn-Lovett’s and later Winn-Dixie. Here’s a John Margolies photo from 1979:

The building is vacant now:

The Murray Hill Theatre in Jacksonville opened in 1949 and closed in 1994. It is now used for live performances:

These fiberglass dolphins in Vilano Beach are installed on the pier just behind the Bluebird of Happiness statue:

The owl at in Jacksonville is installed on a corner of the main public library branch downtown. It symbolizes Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, who could transform herself into an owl. The lockplate and key also symbolize wisdom:

The Morocco Temple in Jacksonville was built from 1910-1911. The building is now used for office space but the Egyptian Revival building and these Sphinx statues which flank the entrance remain:

The Peninsular Pest Control sign in Jacksonville was built in 1966. The mouse and the man’s arm were animated. When the spray gun was “activated,” the mouse would disappear (indicating that he was dead). The Penny Man panel revolved. The mouse and the spray gun neon were intact when I shot the sign in 2009:

However, the mouse and spray gun tubing has been broken since at least 2018 and I don’t think the sign operates any longer. For more pest control signs, see my website here:

This laundromat in Jacksonville was part of an early 1960s nationwide chain of Philco-Bendix Wash ‘N Dry Clean Sunshine Centers. The vacuum-form sign on the right was mass-produced but I believe this rooftop neon sign was a one-off.

I guess I was pretty fatigued as I totally missed seeing/shooting the backlit plastic sign on the lot. I hope it will wait until I get to Florida the next time! There are still a handful of these signs left around the country:

That’s a wrap for now. Next post, I’ll have a little more Florida and then we move on to about 9 days of Georgia.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

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