Monday, April 20, 2015

American Sign Museum

 The plan was for Tom to come to Farmersville yesterday (04/19) but a chance article - and a scan of a webpage - made us rethink those plans. The American Sign Museum in Cincinnati was celebrating their 10th anniversary. Best of all the usual adult admission price of $15 each was reduced to two for $10.

 How could we pass that up?

 The American Sign Museum is exactly what it sounds like ... mostly neon signs, many from the 1950's. But it's really signs in general if you don't let the neon colors blind you to the wider message. The Cincinnati Enquirer calls it "a history lesson".

The museum opened in 2005 but in Walnut Hills. The current museum is in Camp Washington on Monmouth Street. Tod Swormstedt is president and founder; Brad Huberman is managing director.

We arrived just before 2 pm on a rainy afternoon. The "Welcome" sign - a large Genie with outstretched arms - was gray, wet and dripping. This twenty foot tall character is from a California carpet cleaning company.

 But, once inside, the brilliant color fantasy begins. Get ready to squint.

 This small Holiday Inn sign is right inside the main entrance.

 Step around a corner to the right and this is the first glimpse of what you're about to see ...

 Antique unlit signs are displayed, too.

But it's when they get the electrical treatment that they pop into a display worthy of Las Vegas.

 All of us in the Miami Valley know the Frisch's Big Boy character (even if, like me, we're vegetarians).

 Tom admires some old time signs.

 And a few more basic signs.

 Then it begins to brighten up ...

 The "Changeable Neon Letters" at the bottom is an interesting concept. Designed for indoor use, individual letters plug into sockets so that a custom message can be built. These come from Piqua, Ohio.

Crosley is a prominent Cincinnati name (think WLR, Crosley Broadcasting). This sign is from Powel Crosley's appliance store.

 Automobile and transportation signage is well-represented. Dad would have enjoyed the place. It's like traveling the early byways on the 1950's.

See the Howard Johnson's sign on the top right? When we were on spring break in Florida (about 1970), my friend Jim Saylor and myself stayed there and Jim would never miss their "all you can eat" fish fry. I always told Jim that'd he'd be the reason they went out of business.

 This homemade sign is from the 1960's and makes use of the "space race" theme of that decade. It's from Satellite Shopland in Anaheim, California.

 This McDonald's sign is familiar to everyone. It's on the museum's "Town Square".

Rohs is a hardware store from Over-the-Rhine. Much of what you see in this storefront is from the original business.

 The Wagon Wheel was a Westside bar and saloon. The Enquirer calls it "a resting spot for cowboys in the 1890's". The newspaper was responsible for "landing this piece in the museum".

 I took this close-up of some particular bright green neon.

 Located in part of the same building is Neonworks of Cincinnati. They handcraft neon signs.

 For their tenth anniversary celebration, the American Sign Museum offered attendees a slice of birthday cake and various soft drinks.

 Tom's aglow in neon.

 I suppose this Rock City sign is a recreation?

 This "Mail Pouch" sign appears older and the wood it is on appears naturally weathered.

 On the way out Tom check's out their merchandise shop. 10% off all items today for their anniversary celebration.

 And Tom settles on a hat (he only has a hundred).

 Great day in Cincinnati. The American Sign Museum is a dazzling sight and well worth the admission to enjoy a vast array of America's signage.

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