Website Updates: Eateries (pt. 2)

The bulb letters on this Baskin-Robins sign in Los Angeles, CA:

were replaced with backlit plastic letters around 2020:

There’s only one other sign left like this with the bulbs that I know of, in La Mesa, CA.

One of the very few remaining Denny’s neon signs was updated with backlit plastic around 2019. Here’s the sign in Stockton, CA in 2014:

and now — note the Restaurant panel is also gone:

This Denny’s sign in San Antonio, TX was updated around 2019. The original corrugated plastic panels were replaced with boring, flat plastic panels:

This former Dairy Isle in Oneida, NY was still there in 2018 but the the building was gone by 2019:

The former Dairy Isle in Hamtramck, MI:

was looking great in 2019 with new paint:

The former Dairy Queen in Dunkirk, OH has been the Dairy Dream for decades:

Google Maps doesn’t have the new map yet showing the paint job which was done in 2019. So, here’s a photo from Dairy Dream’s website:

This one is a major loss. The unique sundae sign at the Dairy Queen in Terre Haute, IN is gone now. The rooftop letters remain. There is another Terre Haute location with those. I don’t believe any other Dairy Queen locations had them:

I even wrote about this sign for my book. I spoke to the store owner just now and he told me that just before he bought the place, the previous owner sold the sign to a collector for about $30,000. Here’s a closeup:

A former Roy Rogers restaurant in Houston, TX housed a porn shop for many years:

It has now been adapted for a Velvet Taco and opened in January. Google Maps doesn’t have a photo yet but here’s one from company’s FB page. The original roof has been uncovered and the rocky columns preserved (although pink is a little harsh). There must have been hundreds of these buildings around the country beginning in 1968 but only about 19 survive, and none used by Roy Rogers anymore:

That’s enough for one sitting. Lots more Eateries posts to come (I’m only the “F”s right now in this section).

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Eateries (Part 1)

This is a big section with about 250 pages so we will be here a while. If you haven’t poked around in this section before, it’s pretty thorough!

The Chip’s chain was founded in 1964. Although it was short-lived, about 150 locations were built.

There are only about 10 of these buildings left now. This one in Milwaukee, WI was there in 2018 but a parking lot by 2019:

The Golden Point chain was founded in 1958. At least 80 locations were built nationwide. There are only about 11 of these buildings left. This location in Mount Prospect, IL, long gone, was one of the first:

This one in Denver, CO was demolished around 2020:

There was a fire at the Cindy’s Restaurant in San Jose, CA in 2015. It was surrounded by chain link fencing until 2020 when it was demolished. Two locations in Davis, CA and Westminster, CA survive which have the save roof, zigzag features over the counter, and giant “holes” in the ceilings:

I’m getting really worried about this former Lyons Coffee Shop in Hayward, CA which has been surrounded by chain link fencing for about three years now:

One of the worst sign adaptations in 2019 — the Grinder Haven sign in Ontario, CA:

If you’re looking at this on your phone and can’t see the detail, those are backlit plastic letters simply stuck on the panels. At least they left cute A-shaped beams on the building:

The White Log Coffee Shop in Los Angeles, CA has been through a lot since it was built in 1932. 62 of these faux log cabin restaurants were built along the California coast but this is the only one that’s survived. Here’s a vintage photo from the 1940s:

The sign with the frying pan clock is believed to date to the late 1950s. Here are some photos that I’ve taken of it over the years – 2012:



In 2020, there was major fire which gutted the interior. Fortunately, due to its concrete construction, the little cutie-patootie survived. In December, it reopened:

Let’s end with this bit of good news. Many, many more Eateries posts to come.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (part 4)

The Bay Theatre in Baytown, TX was built in 1942. It housed a church for many years. The building was demolished in 2019 when the local court deemed it “too dangerous for occupation”:

The State Theatre in Culpeper, VA had been closed since 1993 – my photo from 2010:

The theatre was built in 1938 as the Pitts Theatre:

After extensive renovation work and recreation of the original blade sign and marquee, the theatre reopened in 2013. It closed just three years later. Here it is vacant in 2018:

In 2019, the interior was gutted and adapted for State Climb, an indoor rock climbing facility, which opened in January 2020. From their FB page:

The Fox Theatre in Centralia, WA has gone through a lot but it’s now getting serious renovation. Here’s one of my photos from 2008 with its 1958 sign. Um, obviously not those colors originally:

And when I shot it in 2015 with the new sign and canopy based on the 1930 originals:

Soooo pretty at night (the Fox’s FB page):

The theatre closed in 2019 for interior renovations. The new doors and replica ticket booth were installed in 2020 (the Fox’s FB page) and more serious work going on inside:

The Crescent Pitcher Show (originally the Crescent Theatre) in Shawano, WI in 2011. It was already missing the freestanding Crescent letters on both sides of the round readerboard marquee:

The theatre closed in 2013. In 2020, it reopened as the Stubborn Brothers Brewery. Google map from 2019 showed work going on. The upstairs is used as the Crescent Ballroom for weddings and such:

The current look from the brewery’s FB page:

The Rialto Theatre in Casper, WY:

… got a marquee and sign makeover in 2018. The neon was all removed. Note how nice and plentiful it was in the photo above, stacked up on all the edges of the triangulated tower AND the letters. The new LED rope (photo below) is really sloppy, with rounded corners on each of the letters. The new color scheme is, in my opinion, really crappy. The channel letters on the lower right are gone as well:

So, there you have it with the theatres. I’ll be venturing off in the next posts from the Eateries section (restaurants — fast food, special cafes, all that). Four sections left and they are the huge ones. After Eateries will be Gas Stations, Signs, and Mid-Century Modern Buildings. I don’t think there’s any way I can finish this project before the big June trip but I will try!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (Part 3)

Let’s finish up the Ohio theatres. The Livingston Theatre in Columbus, OH was built in 1946 and closed in the 1970s. It was used as office space and other functions and really deteriorated over the years:

It has now been adapted for senior apartments:

The building on the corner to the right housed Segel’s Drugs originally:

and my photo from 2009:

Google doesn’t have current photos of that part of the building but I know that it’s being restored as well.

The Gloria Theatre in Urbana, OH was closed in 2011 for renovations:

It reopened in 2015 and looks fabulous now:

The Limelite Theatre in Woodville, OH was demolished in 2013:

Moving on to Portland, OR – the Guild Theatre closed in 2006. Here’s one of my photos from 2015:

In 2017, restoration of the building began and the sign is looking terrific now. The theatre now houses a bookstore:

The Paris Theatre in Portland, OR was remodeled for a nightclub/live performance venue in 2016 and the sign was repainted and neon restored. My photo from 2015:

And here’s what it looks like now – from Google. I think the place has closed already in 2019:

The Garden Theatre in Pittsburgh, PA looked miserable in 2010:

The rooftop sign was missing in 2014 while renovation work was going on. It reappeared in 2017, fully restored, and the canopy sign then went into hiding while it was restored. Then, in 2019, both signs were back and the building looked great. Work still going on inside. But damn — I love the globes and all the other details:

I guess they are not going to bring back that other readerboard sign that was between the restored signs?

The Alverson Center Theatre in Anderson, SC:

was purchased by a church in 2018, gutted, and here’s what it looks like now:

The College Theatre in Brookings, SD was built in 1941 but its been closed for decades. It’s been housing this gym since at least 2008:

In 2018, the readerboard was adapted for the gym’s sign and the “COLLEGE” neon letters were revealed again. It looks like the nice porcelain enamel tiles were painted over though:

The Princess Theatre in Harriman, TN looked dreary as hell in 2005:

but then in 2011 the building got a complete makeover and is now a live performance venue. The design was based on the theatre’s 1939 look:

That’s enough for this post. I still have about 24 pages left to go in this section. So, there will probably be one more about theatres.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (Part 2)

More good news & bad news re: theatres below.

The Colonial Theatre in Pittsburg, KS was built in 1920. In 1959, it became the Fox Colonial Theatre and the marquee sign below was installed:

The sign was restored around 2014 and this is what the building looks like now. Majestic, yes, but I do miss the sign. It’s a trend in recent years to remove nice vintage signs from theatres to return to original looks or replace them with replicas of original signs:

The Alhambra Theatre in Hopkinsville, KY:

was updated a bit in 2018. The readerboard sign was removed and two digital displays were installed. The poster display windows and the lovely black and orange vitrolite glass panels are gone now. At least the sign is looking sharp:

The sign at the Capitol Theatre in Pittsfield, MA was either restored or replicated in 2019 — here’s what it looked like in 2011:

and what it looks like now. I think it has LED instead of neon. The readerboards on the sides are still there. I lean toward thinking this is a replica sign – note the detail panel on top with the wreath is wider:

An article about the sign’s restoration mentioned that this was the original sign from 1922 but, no. Here’s a shot (courtesy of of the lovely bulb sign from 1923 which was there. Note the incredible modular bulb letters:

The Capitol Theatre in Flint, MI:

has been restored and reopened in 2019 as a live performance venue. The blade sign was converted from neon letters to channel letters with bulbs and the readerboards are now digital displays:

The Strand Theatre in Paw Paw, MI:

is now looking better without the paneling:

One more from Michigan. The Court Theatre in Saginaw, MI:

… got a facade makeover by 2017. The vitrolite tiles shown above were removed:

The State Theatre in Ely, MN was looking pretty sad in 2011:

The sign is looking good now but, unfortunately, they went with LED tubing instead of neon:

The Ellen Theatre in Bozeman, MT:

In 2019, the neon sign and canopy were removed and replaced with a new canopy with glass which is closer to the original one from 1919. A new readerboard sign was installed over that:

The neon sign is in storage and there is hope that it might be displayed somewhere in town someday. Here’s what the theatre looked like in 1938 (from

The Fox Theatre in North Platte, NE:

The blade sign was “restored” in 2019 — with LED strips:

The Hippodrome Theatre in Loch Sheldrake, NY was demolished in 2017:

The marquee sign in Majestic Theatre in Chillicothe, OH was in 2011. My photo from 2009 below:

And what it looks like now:

Here’s a 1939 photo from

The Woodward Theatre in Cincinnati, OH has undergone a miraculous transformation. It was built in 1913 and had been closed since 1933. It was housing an antiques store when I took this photo in 2012:

It reopened after being completely restored in 2014 as a live performance venue:

The projecting bulb sign is a recreation of the original. It looks like the statues were replaced at some point:

This is turning out to be another long post. I’ll be back soon with yet more theatres. I think one more post about these should do it before I move on to other sections.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Movie Theatres (Part 1)

The Vogue Theatre in Chula Vista, CA which has been vacant since 2014:

… is being converted into a live performance space — Google Street View from last year:

The plan also includes adding a blade sign back over the entrance:

However, I don’t think that was ever there — the original look is here (photo from San Diego History Center):

The Mission Theatre in Fallbrook, CA:

In 2019 or 2020, the building got a new paint job (why is gray so trendy?) and the neon has been removed from the sign:

The Mesa Theatre in Grand Junction, CO:

… got a makeover in 2019 — and not for the better. The neon and letters are now gone

The Fox Theatre in Walsenburg, CO:

was repainted around 2019:

The Community Theatre in Fairfield, CT:

… closed in 2011. In 2019, it was sold and restoration work began. In 2020, it reopened as the Sacred Heart University Community Theatre. The marquee sign is new but is very similar to the previous 1936 version — kudos to them for staying with neon instead of LED tubing:

The original sign from the early 1920s must have been opal glass and looked like this:

The Miller Theatre in Augusta, GA closed in 1983 and it seemed doomed:

but miracles sometimes happen and the theatre was restored and reopened in 2017. Google Street View has the 2019 view up now:

The Nuart Theatre in Moscow, ID closed in 1999 and the building was purchased by a church in 2004. My photo here is from 2016:

This Google Street View from 2018 was already an “uh-oh” with the sign company at work:

Sure enough, look what happened by 2019 — blocky plastic letters, and a lavender/blue paint job and a new marquee sign:

The Crown Theatre in Crown Point, IN looked like this from the late 1960s until this false front (my photo from 2007) was removed in 2019.

Here’s what the building looks like now. Very nice… but I miss the plastic and giant crown. It’s now a live performance venue:

The Clyde Theatre in Fort Wayne, IN sat vacant for many years and then housed a church (like so many other theatres). My photo here from 2009:

In 2017, work began to turn it into a theatre again. Usually, these plans fall through when it comes to movie theatres. But in this case, it really happened! A replica of the 1951 sign (sans neon) was installed in 2018:

This post is getting long — so let’s end it here on a positive note. Back with more theatres soon.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Art Deco & Streamline Moderne Buildings

I’m relieved but not surprised that out of the 124 pages in this section, very little has changed. I’m sure the less popular/less protected buildings in the midcentury modern section will not fare as well once I get to that one.

Let’s start with this building in Long Beach, CA which housed Acres of Books from 1959-2008:

And then it sat vacant:

until last year — from Google below — apparently, they are saving the facade:

Construction is still going on but here’s what the plan is for the “Broadway Block” development:

This nice building in La Mesa, CA was not so lucky. After a devastating fire set by rioters in reaction to the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the building was declared a total loss and was demolished later that year. The building originally housed a bank:

A couple of my photos from 2018:

I dunno. It looks like the facade could have been saved to me:

The Oakland Floral Depot in Oakland, CA is one of the nicest Art Deco buildings in the country. Don’t worry – it’s fine!

But the sign:

was updated when the Palmetto bar & steakhouse opened in 2020 in the corner location:

The Masonic Temple in Dallas, TX has been restored but, honestly, I’m not a fan. Here’s a photo I took in 2018:

And this is what it looks like now. Sure, it’s been cleaned up but the original lettering and Masonic symbols from 1941 are now missing from the entrance – boo, hiss! I kinda miss the schmutz:

This bakery building in Houston, TX:

was repainted in 2019 — it does look much nicer:

One of my favorites in Houston, TX, the long-abandoned Gribble Stamp & Stencil Building… a mini Flatiron-shaped building… and I’ve been worried about it for years:

It’s been gutted and is being renovated with the building next door for “Soccer Shots,” a soccer training facility:

This is the illustration of what the completed building will look like. New glass block is never as nice as the old stuff but, hey, at least they are keeping the general look:

Brace yourself – this one’s gonna hurt. This beautiful vitrolite-faced number in Manitowoc, WI:

has been given this horrible paint job:

I’ve got five more sections to go at this point but they are the biggies: Theatres, Eateries, Gas Stations, Signs, and Midcentury Modern. I’m not even half-way done. So, this will probably take at least a two or three months. I’m gonna treat myself to some local, California trips soon just to get outta this chair!

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Giant People (Part 2)

I’ve got a whole bunch of happy stories for this post. Hard to believe, I know!

Let’s start with one more Indian statue. This guy was built in 1976 and installed in Roosevelt, UT. Here’s what he looked like then:

He was looking pretty sad when I took photos in 2012:

Word spread that the statue was going to be demolished. Fortunately, he was saved and restored. In December 2018, he was installed at the Ute Tribal Plaza in Fort Duchesne, UT. He looks terrrific! Apparently, Google’s software can’t tell real people from fake ones and just blurs all faces. So, here’s a better photo from the Ute Tribal Facebook page:

Last Chance Joe in Sparks, NV has been full restored and is looking great! Here’s a photo that I took in 2014:

The casino changed hands and it seemed likely that Joe would be destroyed. Fortunately, the Sparks Heritage Museum intervened and he was moved there. Here’s Google’s most recent view of him:

The new paint now reflects what he looked like when built in 1952:

The Uncle Sam statue that had been at Magic Forest in Lake George, NY since 1981 was auctioned off from 2018-2019 with most of the park’s other statues:

The statue was originally installed in 1971 at the Danbury Fair in Danbury, CT. The statue is now back in Danbury and Google shows the beautifully restored statue now. However, I’ll include this photo from Danbury’s website instead which doesn’t have his face blurred out:

Farmer Bob was installed in Portage, WI in the 1970s at what was then a cheese and sausage shop. It’s now a Mobil station. He got a new paint job in 2017. Here’s what he looked like when I took photos of him in 2011:

and now.. from the Portage Mobil station Facebook page:

One bit of bad news from Austin, TX: the giant statue of Maria Corbalan which was installed on top of her restaurant, Maria’s Taco Xpress, in 2006 has been removed. The restaurant was sold in late 2020 and the statue was put up for sale. I don’t know where it went.

One other thing before we close this post — I finally found the location of the giant Cowgirl in Quebec:

She’s now at a campground in Saint-Ludger-de-Milot, QC — and this rodeo FB page even shows here wearing a mask!

That’s a wrap for the statues. I’ll be moving on to building sections for a while. Here’s what’s left to go: Art Deco, Theatres, Eateries, Gas Stations. And then the two biggest sections: Signs and Mid-Century Modern Buildings.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Giant People (Part 1)

This is the last of the statues sections. It’s all buildings and signs after this one.

This International Fiberglass Giant Man (misnomer “Muffler Man”) in Piedras Niegras, MEX:

was laying flat on his back behind the shop by 2019:

I haven’t made it down to Carson, CA yet to shoot this former Golfer’s new look. Here’s what he looked like in 2008 when he still had a golf club and stood at the now-demolished golf course:

And then what he looked like from 2013 until last year:

And now… Google Maps has blurred his face but you get the idea. His giant fabric outfit is gone and he’s been painted black and white:

The Astronaut in Wilmington, IL was restored in 2019 when the Launching Pad restaurant got new owners. Here’s a photo I took in 2009:

And Google shows what he looks like now — super shiny!

This Waving Man was located in Sherman, TX. About a week ago, the statue was sold and will now be heading to private property in Temecula, CA. It’s not yet known if the statue will be visible to the public:

Moving on from the International Fiberglass statues to the one-offs. This Giant Golfer stood in front of the Riverbend Driving Range in Chesterfield, MI:

He was moved in 2020 to China Township, MI to the Red Barn Vintage Market and restoration is nearly done. This photo was taken by the Google car shortly before he was moved:

The Big Indian (aka “Big John”) in Kingsport, TN has been there since 1954. Here’s a vintage photo when the place was originally Honest John’s Trading Post:

And a photo that I took of him in 2010 (operating as Pratt’s Bar-B-Que since 1971):

In 2018, he suffered a broken neck and his head tipped forward and into his chest. From the Times-News:

It had to be replaced and Mark Cline stepped in to recreate it later that year. The restaurant decided to give him a full headdress instead of the feathers and Mohawk. Supposedly, the original head was also being restored and will be displayed inside the restaurant. From

The Indian in Poplar Bluff, MO was miraculously restored around 2017. Here’s the statue in 2010:

and at the most recently Google Maps:

Less blurry – from Poplar Bluff Daily below. He really has tiny hands!

This post is getting long and I still have many pages to go in this section. Be back soon with more.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

Website Updates: Animal Statues

From the Gorillas and Monkeys page:

This gorilla statue in Denver, CO was removed in 2019 when Snarfburger moved into the check cashing building. He had been there since at least 2008. I guess removing him bought them one more parking spot:

The good news is that they didn’t mess with the folded plate mid-century modern building:

I was heartbroken to find out that the bear in West Yarmouth, MA is gone. “Martin” was created in 1975 by T.J. Neil who made lots of mini golf figures and statues for other businesses. He was still there in 2017 but gone at Google Maps in 2019:

I was greatly relieved to find out that he’s been moved to the Yarmouth Country Cabins in South Yarmouth, MA:

The Chicken Cadillac at a used car lot in Oklahoma City, OK was still there in 2019 but gone by 2020:

Some “classic” Rooster statues are gone now. This one in Everson, WA was still there in 2018 but gone by 2019:

This one in Metamora, MI is also gone — there in 2018, gone by 2019:

This swan head was at the Villa Chalets in Lakeview, OH. It was still there in 2018 but gone in 2019. The adorable mini A-frame former motel rooms are still there:

I was worried to see this tiger wood-carving in McPherson, KS no longer visible where he stood when I took this photo in 2010:

but I did some searching online and found out that he’s been repainted and moved safely inside. “Toby the Tiger” is the mascot for Central Christian College. Here is is next to the library now:

Christiansen’s Dairy in North Providence, RI was established in the 1920s and closed in 2019. These cow statues and the sign are gone now:

The giant crab in Middle River, MD was still there in 2018 but gone by 2019. Here’s my photo from 2010, taken in the pouring rain:

This giant inflatable crab was installed on the roof of Nick’s Restaurant in West Swanzey, NH. Nick’s closed in 2019 and I doubt we’ll see the crab on the roof there again.

Fortunately, there’s one just like it in Worcester, MA which is still displayed in the summer:

This giant fish was installed on top of a restaurant sign in Pinewood Springs, CO. It was there in 2018 but gone in 2019:

This horse and cow in Skokie, IL are gone as of 2019:

This horse in Gansevoort, NY is gone as of 2020. The motel and house next door were boarded up in the most recent Google Map:

The Howling Wolf sculpture in Oakland, CA:

… has disintegrated in the sun and wind. Only the rebar frame is left as of 2020. I gave Cold Ice (where he is located) a call just now and they don’t know whether he will be repaired or removed:

This giraffe and gorilla in Austin, TX were at a home furnishings store. When it closed around 2019, the statues were removed:

The Giant Mouse in Waterloo, WI was installed in front of Jim’s Cheese Pantry. The store closed in 2018 and the statue was gone by 2019. Fortunately, there are still other mice like this one:

The Octopus Car Wash in Sterling, IL closed in 2020, another victim to the economic hardship of COVID-19. I think this statue will be removed soon if it hasn’t been already. The real estate listing says “can’t use the Octopus Car Wash name or signs”:

That leaves only one location in Milwaukee, WI still operating with one of these signs. There are two of these statues displayed in Hayward, CA at Bell Plastics. For more about these statues and other octopi, here’s my page:

That’s it for the Giant Animals. The next blog post will be covering Giant People statues.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs