Day 20: Orlando Area

This cheerful sign has been located in Cape Canaveral since 2018 at what is now a combo winery, U-Haul rental office, and, yes, a juice stand:

Arbetter’s Chili Dogs started back in Miami in 1959. It grew to a mini chain with other locations in Hialeah, North Miami, Tampa, and two locations in Cocoa. A Miami location and this one in Cocoa are still operating. This Cocoa location was actually built as a Beefy King around 1968 and this sign is a sad remnant. The plastic panels were blown out by hurricanes and have been vinyl fabric since at least 2007. The middle part of the crown was most likely broken off by flying debris:

The intact crown was still there in 2019 at Google Street View:

Beefy King was founded in Orlando in 1967 and started franchising the following year. There were 107 franchises with other Florida locations as well as Memphis, TN and the Bahamas. In the early 1970s, the franchises were sold to another company which closed all of them. That’s when this Arbetter’s in Cocoa probably opened. Here’s what the Beefy King signs looked like (grand opening ad from 1967). This surviving Orlando sign looks the same, with recently replicated plastic panels. The crown detail on top was lost to a hurricane many years ago.

This Sandman Motel sign is in Mims. Surely, it had neon and probably porcelain panels. Still, there something charming about the hand-painted letters and rust. In 2004, the top half of the sign was blown off by hurricane winds. It was either found or replaced I don’t know if this was the original name. I can’t find any vintage postcards with this design or name:

This Sherwin-Williams sign is in Titusville. The Titusville Hardware Store was located there from 1913 until the early 1980s. I don’t know if this 1950s-looking sign was there then or added when the building was restored. I suspect the latter:

This surfboard-eating shark gets your attention in Cocoa Beach. For more shark statues, there’s a page at my website here:

Hot Dog Heaven is located in Orlando. A giant fork which extends all the way to the ground serves as the sign pole:

The Orlando Milkhouse restaurant and bar opened earlier this year with this giant milk carton sign. It is located in the Milk District (named after the T.G. Lee Dairy) in Orlando:

The Plaza Theatre in Orlando features this rooftop sign:

This former Howard Johnson restaurant in Titusville from 1963 may not survive much longer. The motel was demolished in 2014 and this building is vacant:

This sign is at Wade’s Motor Inn in Titusville. The motel was built in 1961 and this sign looks to be from then. I can’t find any vintage photos to indiciate whether those channel letters are original or later additions. Some modern-day LED accents have been added to the squares:

Last photo for this post is this long-vacant, Polynesian-style building in Titusville which was built for Florida Wonderland in 1959. It operated until 1971 and survived a couple more years as Tropical Wonderland. This particular building housed the reptile house. The tourist attraction had themed areas like an Indian Village, a Wild West, a petting zoo and lots of snakes, birds, and monkeys. For more info and photos, see this FB page:

I’ve got about three more days/posts for Florida before we move on to Georgia for about a week.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 19: West Palm Beach to Melbourne

This is apparently a new sign at The Peach art collective and Troy’s Barbeque in West Palm Beach, FL. I think it went up earlier this year:

The Hotel Evernia in West Palm Beach opened in 1925 as the Hotel Enoree. This sign looks more 1930s/1940s. The hotel became the Evernia in 1979 and this sign was adapted then.

There are Claes Oldenburg giant typewriter erasers scattered around the country: Las Vegas, Seattle, Washington, DC, and this one in West Palm Beach. He made them from 1989-1990. For more Oldenburg sculptures of giant things, see my website here:

Nozzle Nolen Pest Control in West Palm Beach was established in 1951. “Peanut” the elephant has always been the company’s mascot. This sign has been there since at least 1971. The text panel was updated at some point from a simple backlit plastic panel to this one with individual letters slapped on:

But the best thing is that the company still has these cute little mechanized elephants on the roof of some of its trucks. The elephant’s head bobs up and down when the engine is turned on. I have a video here at Instagram:

This motel in West Palm Beach had been built by 1961 (the postcard postmark below) and this sign was there then:

It was originally over on the left and there was apparently a neon crown sign installed on the roof. There was something else over on the right where this sign is now but I can’t make out what it was:

Reed’s Motel in Avon Park opened in 1957 as Bennett’s Motel. The original pole sign was adapted later for Reed’s Motel and the diving woman was added then of after that. She originally wore a one-piece bathing suit:

By 2002, the arrow panel had been replaced with a smaller one. Then, in 2004, the sign was badly damaged during Hurricane Charlie. However, the original diver which is about 15 feet long survived. The rest of the sign was rebuilt and by then the diver was wearing a two-piece suit. The text panels’ shapes were changed a bit and the arrow was reduced to about half the size of the original. Here’s a photo that I took in 2009:

In 2018, the motel became a Budget Inn. The sign was removed by Souther Signs which built the replacement: a boring, short monument sign. The diver panel is now displayed in the window of the Pure Grit Boot Company where I shot it this summer. I don’t know if the arrow or text panels were saved. For more diving lady signs, see my website here:

This gorgeous Art Deco fire station is in Sebring:

This Twistee Treat in Sebring was built around 2015. For vintage and modern examples of these Twistee Treat buildings, I’ve got three pages worth at my website here:

This trash can was installed by 2008. The turpentine industry has played an important role in the history of Lake Placid:

A few more buildings in West Palm Beach to finish off this post. Here’s an Art Deco detail from the Woolworth building. I have Woolworth buildings from all over the country here:

This nifty cleaners was built in 1967:

And lastly, this Esso gas station was built in 1962. It has housed Lynora’s Kitchen since around 2017:

I’ll be back soon with more goodies from Florida.

Happy trails
dj & the dogs

Day 18: Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach Area

Back to the Florida trip photos. Starting off with the Harbor Club in Fort Lauderdale. The apartment building was built in 1957 and is nothing special really except for the floating staircases and these cool mosaics:

The Premiere Hotel in Fort Lauderdale from 1964 still has the original neon letters:

The Schubert Efficiency Apartments in Fort Lauderdale were built in 1953:

The building now houses the Victoria Park Hotel. The sign is gone…:

… but it still has the nice relief panels next to the projecting windows:

The Sanctuary in Fort Lauderdale was built in 1961 as the Second Presbyterian Church. It is simply amazing inside and out:

The former Coca-Cola bottling plant in Fort Lauderdale was built in 1938 and is a twin to the one in Ocala. Here’s just one detail:

Let’s look at some gas stations. Here’s a well-preserved former Phillips 66 in Fort Lauderdale:

In Plantation, these hexagonal canopies are probably not all that old (1970s? 1980s?) but still wonderful:

In Oakland Park, I think this was built in the 1970s as a Gulf station. It now houses the Noor Bakery & Deli:

The Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale. I fear this canopy with the readerboard will be gone soon. Horrible digital displays are really taking over:

These heads are installed at the Polynesian Gardens condo apartments in Plantation:

The Thunderbird Drive-in in Fort Lauderdale is now more popular for its Swap Shop. This sign surely had neon originally instead of those little LED strips. The nice curvy detail is sadly missing its bulbs:

This neon sign is inside the Swap Shop. I don’t know how vintage it is but the letters are wonderful:

This Publix Supermarket in Lake Worth was built in 2011. They recreated a “wings” detail from their 1950s-era stores:

Last but not least, this Lester’s Diner is in Fort Lauderdale. There are two other locations (Phoenix, AZ and Bryan, OH). The coffee cup originally poured a big bulb arrow:

That’s a wrap for now. Five more posts from Florida coming soon.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 17: Miami Beach Area

Well, yes, Miami Beach is famous for its Art Deco and Streamline Moderne hotels. But there are just as many mid-century modern hotels and other buildings. I’ve got all the photos up at my website from this day’s shooting, so have a look if you like at Miami Beach Art Deco Hotels:

And/or mid-century Florida buildings:

Here are just a couple of photos. I’ve selected these two because I love their projecting windows. The Penguin Hotel:

and the San Juan Hotel:

These mosaics in Miami Beach were created by Enzo Gallo in 1971. The bank is now a Wells Fargo but I think it was original a First National Bank. The building is going to be demolished but supposedly the mosaics will be saved. Here is just a sampling of them. The moon landing and Iwo Jima:

Abe Lincoln & Betsy Ross:

Here is some modern neon on the side of the the Alvin’s Island souvenir shop in Miami Beach:

A former McCrory’s terrazzo apron in Miami Beach — more McCrory’s buildings at my website here:

Moving on to Hollywood, FL. The Thunderbird Tepee was built in 1951 as a souvenir stand. By the late 1960s, it had become Tepee Western Wear:

The building is still there, kind of. Now walled up and housing Seminole Media Productions. If you like teepee-shaped buildings, I’ve got tons here from all over the country:

I won’t go into the history of Hollywood Bread, which was advertised as a diet bread (but wasn’t). This website has great stuff about the woman that founded the company, her lifestyle, and what became of the company:

But let’s talk about the sign. Just weeks after I took this photo in June, the sign was removed and the building was demolished. The sign is promised to be installed on top of the gargantuan condo tower that will be built on the former site. There are actually two signs — one was on the south, the other on the north side of the building. It’s not clear if both sets of letters were saved/will be displayed:

The Beach and Town Motel in Hollywood evidently had just a simple pole sign originally (sorry the only vintage postcard that I could find is tiny and blurry) and the letters on the right side of the tower:

Then, by 1953, a far cooler sign replaced that rectangular one and letters were installed on the front of the tower facing the main drag (S. Federal Hwy). Too blurry to tell, but those letters on the tower might have had neon:

At some point, the tower lost its brickwork and the pole sign was removed. But the tower’s letters are still there (minus the word “POOL”):

One last photo for this post: the Churro Magico in Hialeah, FL. I love this painted gate with all the info and the smiling churro with the magic wand:

Back to Photoshopping the next batch. We still have six more days of Florida to go. Then, we move on to nine days of Georgia, and then some things from Tennessee, Oklahoma, etc. on the way home.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 16: More Florida – Miami Area

The Seven Seas Motel on Biscayne Blvd. in Miami has not been snatched up and restored/redeveloped yet but I suspect it will be soon. The midcentury modern motel itself has “good bones”:

The Ball & Chain signs in Miami are probably vintage. The letters on the facade might be original and the projecting sign might have been retexted over the years. This undated photo from the bar’s website is probably from at least the 1950s. Modern paint on the side of the projecting sign’s can reads “Fuller Sign Co. 1935”:

The La Carreta Cuban restaurant in Miami opened in 1976 and this sign is probably from then:

Carreta translates as “oxcart”. There’s an even bigger bulb-studded wheel in the parking lot.

This business in Miami opened in 1950 and I’m betting that this skeleton sign in the window is from then:

This sign is in Miami Beach. The apartments were built in 1951 and this sign is probably from then:

This giant cigar is located on “Calle Ocho” (SW 8th St. in the Little Havana neighborhood) in Miami:

This terrazzo apron (entrance tile floor) is located at what is now a thrift store in Miami:

This Gold Dust Motel sign in Miami was built this year as a recreation of the original sign. Either that, or the owner was able to stir up the missing sign which was missing for many year but possibly stashed somewhere. The motel was built in 1957 and got a complete rehab. Here’s a vintage postcard of the place:

The neon lettering on the sign of the mini tower is gone now. The pool and porte cochere are still there.

This bit on another postcard show what the sign looked like at night. I’m guessing it was not animated:

By the 1970s, a rooftop neon sign and a new neon pole sign were added. Slabby rocks were added to the tower:

Matthew Bamberg’s Retro Sign Blog shows what the sign looked like on the tower at that time — painted blue and the word “MOTEL” moved up for some strange reason:

And here’s what the sign looks like now:

I shot a LOT of midcentury/Art Deco apartments and motels in the Miami area. Here are just a couple. The Shore Apartments from 1948 in Miami Beach:

And the King Cole Apartments in Miami Beach from 1962:

The canopy sign at the Casablanca Hotel in Miami Beach:

This Dairy Queen in Miramar was built in 1956:

And, lastly for this post, the repurposed Firestone building and sign in Miami. The building and sign were constructed in 1929. They were nearly demolished in the early 2000s when Walgreens bought the property but, fortunately, preservationists stepped in. Here’s what the building and sign looked like originally — note it was touted as having the “world’s largest and most modern, one-stop service station”. I wish I could read the neon letters at the bottom of the sign:

Supposedly, five of the original Firestone letters were incorporated into the new sign. However, I don’t think that happened. And if they were, they are gone now:

This post got held up a bit since I was busy watching the Neon Speaks online presentations. If you missed it, you can still catch ALL four days’ worth of recorded videos online by purchasing a “passport” here:

At that link, click on “View Details”:

And here’s the full schedule for what you might have missed:

That’s it for now. I’ll be back next weekend with more.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Days 14 & 15: More Florida

Another couple of days shooting in the grey. I think I get a sunny break for a few days after this — just in time for Miami and Miami Beach. Not many signs during these two days but I’ve got some diverse topics.

If you like ship-shaped buildings, I’ve got a bunch of Noah’s Arks at this page:

This little cutie is installed next to the Ark Animal Hospital & Clinic in Venice, FL:

Bob’s Train in Sarasota, FL is a restaurant housed in four train cars:

The knight statue on the right in Punta Gorda, FL was here for many years. In 2016, he was joined by the two smaller knights:

The Park Motel in Homestead, FL sure ain’t what it used to be. That pole sign on the left is long gone. The office still has the porte cochere but it’s pretty shabby looking now:

The rooftop, scaffold sign still had its neon until around last year but, surely, it hadn’t been lit in decades. Recently the neon in the channel letters was replaced with crazy, DIY LED rope. But, hey, that’s redeemable if this place ever takes a turn for the better:

I’m a sucker for mid-century modern round buildings — banks, schools, restaurants, you name it. I’d drive two hours out of my way, without hesitation, to see/shoot one. This is the former Pick Music Library, now the Music Administration Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL:

Ah, the things you can do with concrete! This is the former Grace Church of Kendall, now Metro Life Church in Kendall, FL:

Farm Stores are a real Florida “thing.” I’m crazy about their gullwing roofs which protect the double drive-thru, stay-in-yer-car entrances from the heat and rain. The one below is in Miami. I’ve shot dozens of them for my website here:

So many statues to shoot and reshoot in Florida. I have been educated on the differences between marlins, sailfishes, and swordfishes. The swordfish and shark below are at Bud n’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, FL:

Slim pickins for signs and the grey skies don’t do them justice but here are a few. This sign is at Mora’s Liquor Store in Miami, FL:. A very odd-shaped arrow and the channel looks modern (or at least freshly painted). Maybe different letters on the scaffolding originally:

The Bird Bowl in Miami opened in 1956 and this was what the original sign looked like – from this website:

Yes, I wish it was still there! And those little square windows and stonework, too. Alas, just a cement wall now.

But the probably-1960s, big replacement sign is still better than a box:

And, lastly, here’s a nice Rexall sign from Homestead, FL. For Rexall signs from all over the country, I’ve got five pages at my website for them:

I’ll be back this weekend with another post from Florida.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Time Out for Announcements

I wanted to make sure you knew about these two events coming up this week if you haven’t seen them promoted on social media yet. Both of them are free but donations are welcome.

California Preservation Foundation | California Preservation Foundation

The California Preservation Foundation is hosting a webinar on Thursday, Sept. 9 from noon-1pm PST. The five speakers (I’m honored to be one of them) will cover much more than California stuff. And there will be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Click on Part 2 at the link below for more info about the program and speakers:

The Neon Speaks Symposium is a MUST for anyone that is interested in signs. This is the fourth year, online again due to COVID. Four full days of great speakers and fascinating presentations on Sept 11-12 and 18-19. I’ll be doing a brief presentation on closing night.

To register and see the full schedule, here’s the link:

I hope you can make one or both of these events!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 12 & 13: More Florida

These two days were kinda crappy weather-wise. Hardly any sun. So, prepare for some gray photos. Let’s continue with Northwest Florida stuff, starting with this motel in Minneola, FL. The giant orange in front

This vintage postcard shows that the orange had a light on top originally and a little pool below:

This Giant Tooth mailbox is installed in front of the Belleview Dental Center in Belleview, FL:

The Krispy Kreme in Gainesville, FL still has a vintage crown rooftop sign. The oval panels would have revolved originally:

The Lorito’s sign in Ocala, FL has been through a lot. Here’s a photo that I took in 2009 just before it was knocked over by a drunk driver:

The owners had the sign “restored” with vinyl decals. It was not a good look and then they faded. Around 2017, the vinyl decals were painted over. I’m still not a fan of the serif font but… yes, way better than a plastic box:

The Marion Theatre in Ocala, FL:

The Howard Johnson’s in Ocala , FL was built as an Econolodge. HoJo’s moved in in the late 1990s. This weathervane steeple was built in 2016 during renovations. It simulates the original rooftop detail with the Simple Simon & Pieman logo:

Two of these ginormous signs were built in Tampa, FL: one for Britton Plaza and the other for Northgate Plaza:

This former Firestone in Clearwater, FL has been a Tires Plus for many years:

This former Kress department store is in Lakeland, FL:

This Moderne Masonic Temple in St. Petersburg, FL won’t be around much longer. Plans to demolish it and build a high-rise have been approved. The sign will supposedly be donated to a Masonic Lodge:

This pirate sign welcomes you to Treasure Island, FL as you drive across the bridge:

I’m always relieved to see this big guy at this self-serve car wash in Lakeland, FL:

Let’s close this post with the World Liquors sign in St. Petersburg, FL. The sign was supposedly built in 1961. Here’s a photo that I took in 2009:

Although according to many articles, the globe supposedly came from a 1950s World Furniture store. I found nothing about that store in St. Petersburg or Tampa at or anywhere else. This Food World sign in Tampa sure looks like a match to me! However, that chain wasn’t established until 1971 so… the true history still remains a mystery.

In 2018, the liquor store property was sold and the sign was either sold or donated to Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill. They kept the globe and created new sign panels and the sputnik on top.

The old panels are displayed at Zazoo’d, a home furnishings store in St. Petersburg. The store wasn’t open when I was there but I managed to get this shot through the window:

That’s a wrap for now. I expect to have more for you soon since I’m hunkered down for this four-day weekend, Photoshop-ing and adding hundreds of photos to my website.

If you can make it, I’ll be one of the speakers for a little hour-long virtual event that the California Preservation Foundation is putting on Thurs, Sept 9 at noon PST. It’s free and some very interesting folks will be talking. For my eight minutes, I’ll be screensharing with some tips and tricks for navigating my ridiculously huge website and getting the most out of it for your enjoyment and trip-planning. More about the program here:

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 10 & 11: Alabama and Florida

I’m making good progress in getting things up at my website. So, I have another batch for you.

Let’s start with this long-closed restaurant that’s right across from a lake in Clearview, AL. So much to love here:

There are dozens of themed civic art project statues around the country. Cows, fish, oranges, you name it. But these peanut statues in Dothan AL might be the cutest, in my opinion. If you want to see more, I’ve got a bunch at my website here:

These fiberglass pigs, like this one in Foley, AL, were mass-produced. I’ve got more like this and other types at these two pages:

When the Pensacola Beach, FL directional sign was replaced in 2019, the old sign was auctioned off in pieces. These pieces are actually from around 2005 since the sign has been banged around by many hurricanes over the years. The sailfish panel went to the Frisky Dolphin, while this panel went to the Pensacola Beach RV Park where it is displayed at their tiki bar:

The sad state of the Giant Skate in Pensacola, FL. It was built from 2004-2007 for the Landmark Skate and Fun Center. Here’s a photo that I took in 2010:

The skating center closed in 2017. The skate was faded but still in decent shape then. In 2019, the skate was moved and was about to be restored by the Pensacola Roller Gurlz. But then the owner wanted the skate back and off to the closed skating center it went. Now, the laces are shot and the tires are gone. Here’s hoping the owner will change his mind. More about this and other giant skates at my website here:

Here are my wonderful travelmates at Cape San Blas, FL. It was hot but still a fun pitstop. White sand and good swimming:

This sign is in Lake City, FL — a little faded but it looks like the neon is in good shape:

Two signs from Gainesville, FL. Around 2019, the ice cream panel was repainted to look like a steaming cup of coffee:

Doug’s Dairy Twirl has been closed since at least 2007 but the sign lives on:

A local brewery has produced a line of stouts which pays tribute to the place. Here are three of the flavors:

Here’s a closeup of the leaf at the Leaf Theatre in Quincy, FL:

The Port Theatre in Port St. Joe, FL. I believe it’s been closed since 2018 after hurricane damage:

Here’s a former Royal Castle in Tallahassee, FL. The only other surviving building like this that I know of is in Clearwater, FL:

And lastly…. a detail from a streamline Firestone tire/repair shop in Tallahassee, FL. These neon letters have been removed or replaced with plastic box signs at most locations around the country:

I’ll be back this weekend with more goodies from Florida. There are about 12 days left to cover from that state in these posts.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Day 8 & 9: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama & Georgia

Let’s double-up a couple of days from this trip for a bigger post, shall we?

The Auto King Muffler Shop chain was founded in Baton Rouge. I think this sign in Plaquemine, LA is the only intact one left, although the shop itself is long closed and this one could disappear any day:

This sign in Plaquemine is also still there although the market has been closed for many years:

The Pharmacy Museum in New Orleans, LA was built around 2013. It is a replica of a 1960s sign:

This former gas station from 1925 in New Orleans has been a work in progress for many years. It was being restored for a Cafe Habana but the neighbors were worried about traffic, crowds, noise…. looks like it’s finally going to open soon:

The Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans has lots of interesting things and a few signs. This one came from a former bakery in town. It opened in 1934 and this sign might be from then or maybe the 1940s. The business was bought out by another bakery in the 2000s and this sign was donated to the museum:

Here’s another sign on display at the museum. This one came from Little Rock, AR and was built in 1950:

I brake for globes (yes, and so many other things). This one is in Roseland at Smitty’s Supply headquarters in Roseland, LA. I think it’s from around 2015 or so.

This former gas station in New Orleans is of similar age. It has been sitting vacant for years but it did get some fresh paint recently:

The Public Library in Gulfport, MS has been lovingly restored. This wonderful staircase and original columns have been preserved:

I believe this sign in Mobile, AL was adapted from Korbet’s Restaurant, which is gone now:

These two signs are at Byrd Drugs in Troy, AL. I had clouds and will have to reshoot someday:

I’ve seen photos of this one lit at night — the bird detail is/was a pretty blue:

One more thing from Troy – 200 terracotta warriors at Troy University:

Let’s close with a few goodies from Columbus, GA. A closed Greyhound station:

A nifty, probably 1920s former gas station:

A massive and wonderful brutal parking garage from 1968:

and lastly… Ruth Ann’s was built in 1959:

Don’t forget that I’m adding other (different!) photos to my Flickr account simultaneously with these blog posts:

And loads of other photos from the same days covered here have been going up at the same time at my website:

There’s a four-day weekend coming up. So, I’ll have a lot more posts for you soon.

Happy trails,

dj & the dogs