email: roadarch@outlook.com

Diving Women Signs

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The photos on this page were moved here from my Signs section to accompany an article which I'm writing for the Society for Commercial Archeology's Journal magazine. This page and the upcoming article will provide information about vintage signs with depictions of diving women. I have just begun working on this page. I'll be updating the descriptions with more info as I make calls and do the research for the article.

Stamie's Smart Beach Wear
Daytona Beach, FL
This Jantzen diving girl statue had been at Stamie's Smart Beach Wear since 1965. These fiberglass statues are about 21 feet long. This statue was originally installed in Miami. It was moved to Stamie's in 1965. The store closed in 2017. In 2018, the statue was removed. The statue is still owned by Perry Ellis. It will soon be displayed at One Daytona.

There were six of these statues produced in 1959 by a Los Angeles mannequin company, Wolf and Vine, for the Jantzen Swimwear Company. One found its way to Europe where it was later destroyed. In addition to this one at Stamie's, three others are known to have survived. All four are owned by Perry Ellis, the parent company of Jantzen. One has been displayed at Providence Park in Portland, OR since 1971 when the building was known as Civic Stadium. It was removed in 2000. Another statue is kept in Perry Ellis' warehouse in Miami, FL. It is sometimes displayed during parades and other special events. The other statue is in Vancouver, WA in a private collection. The sixth statue might be in a private collection in Los Angeles. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Starlite Motel
Mesa, AZ

2004:

2012:
2017:
The Starlite Motel has two neon signs. The 78 foot tall diving woman sign was built between 1955 and 1960. It was designed by Paul Millet. The animated sequence features the woman in three positions diving into a splash of water. Although the motel's pool was long gone, the sign was well-preserved until it crashed to the ground in 2010. The neon tubing was completely destroyed and the steel pieces were substantially dented. It cost about $100,000 to faithfully replicate the sign. The sign was reinstalled in 2013. The final photo above shows one of rusty pieces from the sign which was saved by the sign shop that restored it. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

City Center Motel
San Jose, CA
Dive Bar
San Jose, CA
The City Center Motel sign directs motorists to the motel which is a block away. The sign was built around 1960 when the motel added a pool. The diver originally wore a one-piece bathing suit. One panel has been updated to a bikini. For more, see this website. [map]

The Dive Bar opened in 2004. This sign appears to be from then. [map]

Beverly Motel
Mobile, AL
Mayo Motel [gone]
Roswell, NM
Reed's Motel [gone]
Avon Park, FL
Florida Bonded Pools
Jacksonville, FL
The Beverly Motel sign looked great in 2003 and was still working. However, the paint had dramatically faded by 2010 when this photo was taken. By 2011, the text panels beneath the diver had been replaced with a plastic panel. The diver's neon had been removed. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

The Mayo Motel was known as the Mayo Lodge in the 1950s. It had a much larger neon sign then which did not have a diver. This sign may have been a 1960s replacement. In recent years, it had a plastic box sign with a neon diving woman and pool. Around 2017, the diver and pool panels were removed. For more, see this website. [map]

Reed's Motel opened in 1957 as Bennett's Motel. The original pole sign was adapted later for Reed's Motel and the diving woman was either added then or after that. She originally wore a one-piece bathing suit. By 2002, the arrow panel had been replaced with a smaller one. In 2004, the sign was badly damaged during Hurricane Charlie. The original diver which is about 15 feet long survived. The rest of the sign was rebuilt. The panels' shapes were changed a bit and the arrow was reduced further to about half the size of the original. In 2017, I was told that the name of the motel might be changing and that the sign would be redone or replaced. In 2018, the motel became a Budget Inn. The sign was removed by Souther Signs which built the new sign. The sign, in several parts, is in storage at the sign shop for now. The owner is hoping to display the sign in town somewhere. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3.

Florida Bonded Pools opened in 1957. The original sign featured an approximately 30-foot-tall, bikini-clad, representation of movie star/swimmer Esther Williams. The current sign is believed to be from the 1970s. For more, see this website. [map]

Villa Capri Motel
Coronado, CA
The Villa Capri Motel opened in 1956. This sign and the neon on the building were installed then. The sign was designed by the owner, Bettye Trowbridge Vaughen. The diver was inspired by the "Jantzen Girl" which was used in swimsuit advertising since the 1920s. This motel still has a pool. Maintenance of the neon costs about $4,000 per year. The sign is not operated on rainy nights to keep the transformers from blowing out. The motel is now known as the Villa Capri by the Sea. [map]

Perry Plaza
Motel [gone]
Hot Springs, AR
Best Motel
Hot Springs, AR
Range Cafe
Albuquerque, NM
The Perry Plaza Motel sign featured a diving woman, a common element used in the 1950s. It indicated that the motel had a pool. The Perry Plaza Motel was originally known as the Perry Plaza Court. This photo is from 2008. By 2013, the sign had been painted entirely white and the lower diagonal panel was gone. In 2016, the sign was still white. For more, see this website. [map]

The Best Motel was previously known as the Best Motor Court. It is now known as the Best Holiday Motel. This photo is from from 2008. By 2011, the sign had been repainted. [map]

The diving woman sign inside the Range Cafe was purchased at an antiques store in Los Angeles. The owner was told that it might have come from the Reno, NV area. He swears that it's a vintage sign. He repaired some of the neon but left the paint intact. However, it's very possible that it's a well-done modern sign.

Brent-Air Pool Supplies
Los Angeles, CA
Motel Birmingham
Birmingham, AL
2008: 2013: ca. 2005: 2010:
The Brent-Air Pool Supplies sign was built in the early 1950s. It was about 30 feet tall and featured a woman executing a jack knife dive. The woman wore a one piece bathing suit when the sign was built. In the 1970s, the sign was repainted and the woman was given a two-piece bathing suit. However, the one-piece neon outline was not changed. In 2010, the sign was knocked over by high winds. The sign shop and owner determined that the sign could not be saved. A replica sign with neon was built for about $30,000. For more, see this website. [map]

The Motel Birmingham opened in 1954. In 2006, the motels was renamed the Delux Inn & Suites and the upper part of the sign was modified. [first photo thanks Joel Calvin] [map]

Pueblo Hotel & Apartments
Tucson, AZ

2008:

2012:
The Pueblo Hotel & Apartments sign was originally installed around 1948 with just the text sign. The upper part of the sign with the diving woman was added in 1955 when the hotel's pool was built. The hotel closed in 1984 but the sign remained despite its broken neon and peeling paint. The sign had been dark since at least 1974. When the law firm of Piccaretta Davis bought the building in 1991, the owners wanted to restore the sign. However, Tucson's sign code prevented that from happening until it was revised in 2011. The sign was restored in 2012 at a cost of about $25,000. More than 200 feet of white and aqua neon was used for the sign panels. Some guesswork was necessary despite the best efforts of the sign shop to replicate the original sign. No vintage photos or documentation or the sign's original wording or color scheme could be found. It is unknown whether the diving woman wore a one or two piece bathing suit when the sign was built. The law firm decided to depict her in a polka-dot bikini. The horizontal panel that read "Refrigerated" now reads "Piccaretta Davis". The new sign code allows for minor adaptive changes. [map]

More Diving Women Signs:
Horseshoe Motel (Phoenix, AZ) [gone]
Western Village Motel (Phoenix, AZ) [gone]
Olive Manor Motel (Burbank, CA) [gone]
Town House Motel (Chico, CA) [gone]
Fresno Motel (Fresno, CA)
Sahara Motel (Fresno, CA) [gone]
Museum of Neon Art (Glendale, CA)
Holiday Motel (Modesto, CA) [gone]
Sahara Motel (Modesto, CA) [gone]
Stardust Motel (Redding, CA) [gone]
Park View Motel: 1, 2 (San Jose, CA) [gone]
Casa Clara Motel (Santa Clara, CA) [gone]
Mariani's Motel (Santa Clara, CA) [gone]
Santa Cruz Motel (Santa Cruz, CA) [gone]
Silver Sands Motel (Santa Cruz, CA) [gone]
Steele's Motel (Universal City, CA)
Experience Lodge: 1, 2 (West Sacramento, CA) [gone]
Jantzen (Miami, FL) [gone]
Paradise Park (Middleton, MA) [gone]
Starlite Motel (Old Orchard Beach, ME) [vintage; gone]
Mt. Vernon Motor Lodge (Springfield, MO) [vintage; gone]
Virginia Court Motel (Meridian, MS) [private collection]
Jantzen: 1, 2 (Atlantic City, NJ) [vintage; gone]
Paradise Motel (Tucumcari, NM) [gone]
Zephyr Motel (Reno, NV) [private collection]
Airline Motel (Oklahoma City, OK) [gone]
Oregon Motor Motel (The Dalles, OR)
Empress Motel (Allendale, SC) [gone]
former Jantzen Distribution Center (Seneca, SC) [map]
Timpanogos Harley-Davidson (Lindon, UT)
Knight's Inn Motel: 1, 2 (Yakima, WA)
Belvedere Motor Hotel (San Antonio, TX) [gone]
El Rancho Motel (Penticton, BC)
Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry: 1, 2 (London, England)

If you know of any signs with depictions of diving women that are missing from this page, I'd love to hear from you.

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