This blog documents the photo-gathering roadtrips for RoadsideArchitecture.com (aka roadarch.com). That gigantic website covers buildings, signs & statues from the 1920s-1970s. The posts here offer about a dozen photos from each day of shooting. In winter, there are "news" posts about demolitions, removals, remodeling, restorations, etc.
Whew! Finally done with the Eateries section. Here’s a nice long post with the “news.”
This former Kentucky Fried Chicken weathervane sign was at a cafe in Gilt Edge, TN. It’s gone now:
The former Circle Drive-in in Baltimore, MD has been demolished. It was built in 1947 and originally looked like this:
My 2004 photo shows that the the burger bulb sign was still there:
By 2010, it was housing a used car lot. The current StreetView shows a new boxy building going up. It sounds like it will be a Dunkin Donuts.
Todoroff’s Coney Island in Jackson, MI was built in 2001. It closed in 2008 and had been vacant since then:
It began housing Big Dog Barbeque last year. However, in September there was a fire and the place is now closed:
The Chicken Coop in Plainwell, MI is gone now (both the building and sign). There are still a few other locations in the chain that survive.
Zack’s Hamburgers in Charlotte, NC closed last year. The building is still there but the sign is gone:
The former Sambo’s building in Yuba City, CA has been demolished:
The Pirate Ship in Sparks, NV was built in 1971 as Cap’n Bill’s Fish and Chips. It housed a few other restaurants before becoming the Pirate Ship:
It closed around 2008 and then in 2017 it began housing Mariscos El Barco. It was repainted yellow, red, and blue. Earlier this year, it was given this new paint:
This former Tastee-Freez sign in Fort Garland, CO was removed since I was there in July:
The former Tastee-Freez sign in Marshalltown, IA is gone now:
This former Tastee-Freez building in Eufala, OK is gone now:
This former Tastee-Freez building in East Lansing, MI is gone now:
Nikki’s Drive-in from 1942 in Chattanooga, TN was demolished for a condo development:
This former Watsonburger building in Durant, OK is gone now:
The former Do-Nut Dinette in Winchester, VA…
… now houses the Food Bash restaurant and the donut-shaped rooftop feature has either been removed or concealed:
This Zesto Drive-in in Jefferson City, MO closed last year and the sign is gone now. It looks like the building now houses a meat market:
The Zesto in Athens, TN had closed by 2007 and the building has housed a series of different restaurants since then.
The painted ice cream cone on the sign survived until last year when Luciano’s painted over it:
I’ll be moving on to the Gas Stations section now which has over 300 pages. I would expect there will be multiple blog posts here for that. Then, I’ll be moving on to Signs and Mid-Century Buildings. I’m hoping to be done with this project by March or so.
I’m about halfway through this section at my website which has about 278 pages.
The former Dari-Delite in Point Pleasant, NJ now houses Oakwood’s Point Pizza. The building’s gables have been painted to look like pizza slices:
Under the paint and shingles might possibly be the original embossed plastic signs with Dee and Dee-Dee like this former Dari-Delite in Napa, CA:
This former Denny’s in Fresno, CA was demolished earlier this year:
The former Denny’s in Tukwila, WA closed in 2020 and was demolished at the end of last year.
It was a gem and lots of original interior details like this:
The Dairy Queen in Hibbing, MN still has the Little Miss sign on the roof, the letters on the sides of the building, and the lips logo sign on the front of the building. However, the drink cup and sundae signs are gone now:
The Dairy Queen in Sanibel, FL was badly damaged by Hurricane Ian a few months ago. Here’s the before:
The former Dairy Queen in Scottsdale, AZ (a one-off for the Polynesian Plaza built in 1964) was disassembled in 2019:
It was to be reassembled at a different spot in town. The photo below is from GoogleStreetView last month. It sure appears to be an all new wood, maybe with identical measurements:
This former Der Wienerschnitzel in San Diego, CA is now housing Happy Fast Delicious:
This former Orange Julius in Los Angeles, CA housed L.A. Burger for many years. The building was demolished around 2019 with the promise that the mega building on the lot and behind it would “mimic” the roofline:
Well, the building is apparently done and here’s the “mimic” part — you gotta be kiddin’ me! OK, at least the sign is still there. Very sad. Fortunately, there are still about a dozen of these little buildings with the sawtooth roofs that survive:
This former International House of Pancakes in Riverside, CA had housed Mr. T’s since 2011. It closed in 2019. The building was badly damaged by a fire earlier this year and demolished:
That’s enough for now. I’ll be back in a few days with more Eateries.
I’m about halfway done with this annual winter project with the four giant sections remaining. After Eateries, there will be gas stations, signs, and mid-century buildings. I’m just getting going with this section and I already have plenty to report.
This former Mr. Swiss (Master Wong’s for many years) in Bolivar, MO:
now has a giant addition in front (a common dining room expansion for many of these buildings and other fast food places):
This former Chicken Chef (a very similar looking chain design) in Hammond, LA:
has been cleaned up for the Pour House and is now partly concealed behind an open-air patio dining structure:
This Dari-Delite in Clanton, AL moved in 2011. This sign was removed last year but the building remains.
This Arby’s sign in Tulsa, OK:
got the ugly LED rope treatment this year:
Another one bites the dust — the neon Arby’s hat replaced with modern plastic in Miami, OK:
One of the very few remaining original pylon A&W buildings still operating as such closed earlier this year. This building was from the late 1940s in Hanford, CA is vacant and the signs are gone:
This former pilgrim hat A&W in Humboldt, IA has been vacant for years. Earlier this year, the “hat” and canopy were removed:
Moving on to Burger Chef signs — as per John Margolies, here’s what the original signs looked like — this one was in Albuquerque, NM:
The former sign in Springfield, MA has been through many updates for different business over several decades. Recently, the sign was encased in plastic panels but it still bears a resemblance to the original design:
Around 2007, the former sign in Baltimore, MD was painted as a chicken for The Roost:
The paint faded quite a bit over the years and now it’s been painted over. What’s nice though is that you can see where the chef was more clearly and your can make out the 15 cents bulb sockets. Yes, and the building is still there (with some updating, of course):
The Biff-Burger in St. Petersburg, FL closed last year. GoogleStreetView shows what things look like as last month. So sad. The last report is that it will all be demolished for a car wash soon:
The Big Boy restaurant in Novi, MI closed in 2020. The building and this statue are gone now:
The former Coffee Dan’s restaurant in Oceanside, CA from 1956 was demolished earlier this year:
This is a big post – filled with heartbreaks, unfortunate/inexplicable makeovers, and a few bits of good news.
The Reel Joy Theatre in King City, CA had been closed for decades. This marquee is gone now:
The long-closed Grove Theatre sign in Lindsay, CA:
has been painted white — why they kept the neon… who knows. Maybe Google Street View car caught it as they were repainting it?
The former Cove Theatre in Orange Cove, CA has housed a church for many years. The Cove letters are gone now:
The Century Plaza Theatre in South San Francisco, CA had been closed since 2008. These domes were demolished late last year:
The Fox Theatre in La Junta, CO was painted white until recently — you guessed it, now gray!
The Rook Theatre in Cheyenne, OK has a new marquee sign based on the original. My photo from 2006 when it had already been closed for many years:
Then, this photo from 2011 when it was housing a video store:
Restoration began in 2019…The original facade from the The Rook’s FB page:
and now the replica sign from 2021 from GoogleStreetView. The interior is still being restored but it is hosting special events and still actively raising funds:
The Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro, OR has been through a lot since it was built in 1911 as the Grand Theatre. It later operated as the Liberty Theatre before becoming the Venetian Theatre. After that, it became the Town Theatre. Then, in 2008, it began housing the Venetian Theatre Bistro, a theatre and restaurant. The current sign was built then but the original facade (well, the top half anyway) was still visible:
Until last year when they covered it up (and the building next door) with this junk:
The indignity of it all. The former Rex Theatre in Borger, TX has housed retail space below for many years but the nice Art Deco upper half remained:
The Rialto Theatre in Brownfield, TX had a faded but nice Western campfire scene above the marquee:
It’s been replaced with this crazy Van Gogh Starry Night style painting now — but, hey, it looks like the neon was restored!
The long-closed Lyric Theatre in Terrell, TX has also been repainted. From this:
The former Oaks Theatre in Columbus, TX had grimy white paint for many years. It was repainted earlier this year. Seafoam is much nicer than gray!
The Strand Theatre in Marlin, TX has been closed since at least the 1980s. The sign was removed earlier this year. I’m assuming it’s gone for good because the steel supports attached to the building are gone as well:
The 25th St. Theatre in Waco, TX was demolished…
but a similar building and a replica sign with different text were built on the site for a new fire station:
The Poly Theatre in Fort Worth, TX:
has been refurbished somewhat and is up for sale. It’s been repainted and the sign has been patched up. The ticket booth and the POLY letters on the left are gone:
The Guild 45th St. Theatre in Seattle, WA has been closed since 2017. This sign was destroyed in 2021. Some of the letters were saved:
The building will likely be destroyed but here’s what it looks like now:
The LaBelle Theatre in South Charleston, WV looked like this in 2012:
It’s now owned by the city and I guess they thought this makeover was an improvement — oof:
The good news: after combing the 143 pages in this section, I don’t have a lot of bad news.
The former Sterling Cleaners sign in Burlingame, CA has been repainted yet again. Earlier this year, it went from blue to pink. Now, it’s brown to signify the new tenant of Natural Bronzing. The building used to be white which was nicer. Dark grey is so hideously trendy these days:
The former Moxley Veterinary Clinic in Los Angeles, CA is apparently being gutted. I don’t know if the sign tower will return or if the Art Deco animal reliefs are being preserved:
Here’s what it looked like at Street View in May:
This church in San Diego, CA has been demolished:
This sweet little building in Macon, MO was attached to quonset hut. It’s gone now:
This former Fire Station in Muskogee, OK:
has been restored. I wish the lettering had been preserved:
This Fire Station in Tulsa, OK has also been restored as an event center:
The Nuway Laundry building in Oklahoma City, OK:
has been painted a brown or gray – why?!?!:
I haven’t gotten to shoot this one yet — but the details on the former John’s Meat Market & Grocery building’s in Portland, OR:
have been painted over — again, why?!?!
This building in Rockport, TX has been demolished for a huge art museum:
I’ll be moving on to the Movie Theatres section next.
The Big John statue in Walls, MS looks like it’s been repainted again. Here he was in 2019:
Earlier this year, the Pep Boys in Wilmington, DE gave up one of its buildings to an Advance Auto Parts. This statue was removed. I have no idea where it wound up:
The business and this Santa in Trenton, FL are gone now:
The business and these Snowmen in Stillwater, OK are gone now:
This statue in San Jose, CA is gone now:
That’s it for the People Statues! The next blog post, I’ll be moving on to the Art Deco/Streamline Moderne Buildings section. I have six more sections but they are biggies. To be precise, I am only 38% done with this project. To come, in order (and in order of their size): Movie Theatres, Eateries, Gas Stations, Signs, and then Mid-Century Modern Buildings.
The R-Tee Golf in Chenango Bridge, NY is gone now. It had lots of classic obstacles and statues like these:
From the Diners section… the Welcome Diner in Phoenix, AZ was vacant for a few years:
Last year, it began housing The Garfield Phoenix:
This Valentine diner in Ellinwood, KS was looking pretty shabby:
The siding was removed and it’s looking a bit nicer now. I don’t know if any of the interior’s built-shelves, counters, or stools are still there.
Mattie’s Diner in Charlotte, NC was originally located in New Jersey. In 2008, it was moved to Charlotte where it opened in 2010. It closed after just a few years and went into storage again. A new location was found and it reopened in April. It’s good to see it back in use again:
Moving on to the Animal Statues section. This orangutan statue in Natchitoches, LA is gone now. There are still three other examples of these that I know of in Memphis, TN, Roseville, OH and Olin, IA.
This bear in Sonora, CA is gone:
This Snowball-Throwing Polar Bear in Nashville, TN was missing an arm and looking pretty shabby:
But he’s now been restored!
This Broaster Chicken in Marshalltown, IA is gone now:
This statue in Napa, CA was located at the Red Hen Cantina. The restaurant has closed and the statue is gone:
This “classic” rooster in Pearl River, MS is gone now:
The giant flamingo in Baltimore, MD was installed at the Cafe Hon for 20 years. The restaurant closed in April and the statue is in storage. It is hoped that it will be reinstalled in the same neighborhood at some point.
This wood-carved bird in Westport, OR is gone now:
This statue at the Cardinal Motel in Bowling Green, KY…
is still there and in good shape. The motel itself was destroyed in a December 2021 tornado but it is being rebuilt:
That’s it for the bird statues but I still have lots of other animal pages to go through. Be back soon.