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Nice neon addition, but is it vintage? June 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Signs.
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The Marty Rivers Building in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, recently touted the addition of a neon sign on its roof.

The building is on East Hobson Avenue and North Water Street in Sapulpa (map here), which sits one block north of Dewey Avenue, aka Route 66. A short story about the sign in the Sapulpa Daily Herald passed along the claim the “very vintage neon Mother Road sign” was from the 1930s and it hung at the Old Route 66 Cafe in nearby Bristow, Oklahoma. The newspaper said the sign was purchased in 1992, “was lovingly restored and awaited the right spot to place.”

Go here to see two photos of the sign being installed.

However, I’m skeptical the sign was designed in the 1930s. Its lettering and styling seems all-too-modern for something that would predate World War II. Based on the lettering style, it would say it was fabricated during the 1980s.

Also, I’ve found no records online anywhere about an Old Route 66 Cafe that existed in Bristow. There was an Old Route 66 Cafe in Adrian, Texas, which became better-known as the Bent Door. There also was an Old Route 66 Cafe in Tucumcari, New Mexico, during the 1980s. That’s it.

I’m very pleased old neon signs can be put to good use again, and this one is a good fit for Sapulpa’s historic downtown. But I’d be shocked if someone comes forward with proof the sign indeed dates to the ’30s and that it once guided travelers to an Old Route 66 Cafe in Bristow.

Comments»

1. KoHoSo - June 10, 2014

The only thing I can think of is that maybe the sign IS from the 1930s but, for whatever reason, the area inside the shield was redesigned. If that’s not the case, I think the guess of it being made in the 1980s is probably generous at best. Not only does it not look 1930’s, that font and overall “inaccurate” shield design is the exact same one seen on doggone near half of the goods sold today in every Route 66 gift shop and tourist trap from Illinois to California.

I’m all for anything new and unusual to be put up along the Mother Road and installing that sign up there is pretty cool. On the other hand, I think it is wrong to try to pass something off as being historic when it probably isn’t…and that would also go for not putting out the full story on how something was changed from the original.

2. xy47402 - June 11, 2014

It’s possible that the people who made this claim were misinformed, or perhaps the newspaper meant “vintage” in _appearance_ but I doubt that this sign was fabricated in the 1930s. In the 1930s, the lettering would have been hand-painted, while this sign looks like it was machine fabricated with a typestyle that did not become popular until the late 20th C.


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