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 wrote for the Society for Commercial Archeology's Journal magazine. This page and the article provide information about vintage signs with depictions of diving women.

Stamie's Smart Beach Wear
Daytona Beach, FL


One Daytona
Daytona Beach, FL


This Jantzen diving girl statue had been at Stamie's Smart Beach Wear since 1965. These fiberglass statues are 16 feet, 9 inches long. This statue was originally installed in Miami. It was moved to Stamie's in 1965. The store closed in 2017 and the statue was removed in 2018. It was restored and is now displayed at One Daytona. It is on long-term loan from Jantzen. For more, see this website. [map]

There were six of these statues produced in 1959 by a Los Angeles mannequin manufacturer, Wolf and Vine, for the Jantzen Swimwear Company. One found its way to Europe where it was later destroyed. In addition to this one in Daytona, three others are known to have survived. One has been displayed at Providence Park in Portland, OR since 1971 when the building was known as the Civic Stadium. It was moved inside in 2000. Another statue is at Jantzen's headquarters. The other statue is in Portland, OR in a private collection. For more, see this website.

Starlite Motel
Mesa, AZ


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 Millett. 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]

Mayo Motel [gone]
Roswell, NM
City Center Motel [gone]
San Jose, CA
Dive Bar [gone]
San Jose, CA
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.

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. The sign was removed in 2020 and is now in History San Jose's storage. It may appear one day in a local sign park. For more, see this website.

The Dive Bar opened in 2004. This sign was installed in 2007. The diver was nicknamed "Betty" was created by Northwest Signs of Santa Cruz. It is about 11.5 feet tall. The bar closed in 2021 and this sign is gone.

Town & Country Resort
San Diego, CA
This revolving, 15-foot-long diver sign at the Town & Country Resort was built and installed in 2020 at the Lapper poolside bar. She is named "Thelma." Although she's referred to in articles and by the resort itself as "neon," it's obviously lit with LED strips. This sign was likely inspired by the diver sign at the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale, CA. For more, see this website.

Florida Bonded Pools
Jacksonville, FL
2009: 2021:
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. The backlit plastic text panels shown in the 2009 photo above were damaged in 2015 and replaced with opaque panels. Around 2021, the business name changed to Oak Wells Aquatics and the text panels were replaced. For more, see this website. [map]

Reed's Motel
Avon Park, FL
2009: 2021:
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 diving woman panel is now displayed in the window of the Pure Grit Boot Company. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3. [map]

Beverly Motel
Mobile, AL (now Pensacola Beach, FL)
2010: 2019:
The Beverly Motel opened in the 1940s. The sign was based on a sketch by the owners' son of his sister, Beverly. It was probably built in the 1950s. The sign still looked great in 2003 and was still lit at night. However, the paint had dramatically faded by 2010. By 2011, the text panels beneath the diver had been replaced with a plastic panel. The diver's neon had been removed. In 2021, the diver was moved to storage. In 2023, it was put on display at Flounder's Chowder House in Pensacola Beach. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2.

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. 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. Around 2018, the letters on the building had been painted white and the building area behind it had been painted gray. In 2019, it was announced that the mid-century modern motel would be replaced with a multi-story hotel. The diver sign will be moved to the side of the building and the text sign to the rooftop bar. In 2023, the signs were removed for the building's demolition. [map]

Best Motel
Hot Springs, AR
2008: 2019:
The Best Motel was built in 1933 as the Best Motor Court. It was later known as the Best Holiday Motel. It is now known as the Best Court Motel. By 2011, the sign had been repainted. In 2018, the diving woman sign was replaced with a simulation of the original 1930s sign. The diving woman sign was probably built in the 1950s. It is currently in storage at the sign shop as the owner debates about whether to restore it and install it at the motel's restaurant, the Best Cafe. There was another diving woman sign installed at the motel between the 1930s and 1950s era signs. This large, Jantzen-style diver sign is now in a private collection. [map]

Perry Plaza
Motel [gone]
Hot Springs, AR
Range Cafe
Albuquerque, NM
Neon Gallery
Houston, TX
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. [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.

The diving woman sign inside the Neon Gallery is a modern sign. The shop opened in 1983 and produces custom designs and also does restorations.

Brent-Air Pool Supplies
Los Angeles, CA
Motel Birmingham [gone]
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 motel was renamed the Delux Inn & Suites and the upper part of the sign was modified. In 2021, the motel was demolished and the sign is gone. [first photo thanks Joel Calvin]

Pueblo Hotel & Apartments
Tucson, AZ


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:
Joy Motel (Eureka Springs, AR) [gone]
Fountain Motel (Hot Springs, AR) [gone]
Horseshoe Motel (Phoenix, AZ) [gone]
Western Village Motel (Phoenix, AZ) [gone]
Olive Manor Motel (Burbank, CA) [gone]
Town House Motel (Chico, CA) [gone]
Desert Plunge (El Centro) [gone]
Fresno Motel (Fresno, CA)
Sahara Motel (Fresno, CA) [gone]
Museum of Neon Art (Glendale, CA)
Whispering Pines Lodge (Kernville, CA) [map]
Holiday Motel (Modesto, CA) [gone]
Sahara Motel (Modesto, CA) [gone]
Stardust Motel (Redding, CA) [gone]
Capitol Inn (Sacramento, CA) [gone]
Rolling Green Motel (Sacramento, CA) [gone]
Plantation Inn Motel (San Francisco, 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]
Monte Vista Motel (Santa Rosa, CA) [gone]
Steele's Motel (Universal City, CA)
West Hollywood Park (West Hollywood, CA)
Experience Lodge: 1, 2 (West Sacramento, CA) [gone]
Sheridan Motel (Denver, CO) [vintage; gone]
Jantzen (Miami, FL) [gone]
Western Hills Motel (Bowling Green, KY) [vintage; gone]
Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina display (Boston, MA)
Paradise Park (Middleton, MA) [gone]
Saugus Pines Motor Court (Saugus, MA) [vintage; gone]
Starlite Motel (Old Orchard Beach, ME) [vintage; gone]
Mt. Vernon Motor Lodge (Springfield, MO) [vintage; gone]
Heidelberg Jr. Motel Courts (Jackson, MS)
Virginia Court Motel (Meridian, MS) [private collection]
Jantzen (Atlantic City, NJ) [vintage; gone]
Park Motel (Carlsbad, NM) [vintage; gone]
Paradise Motel (Tucumcari, NM) [gone]
Zephyr Motel: 1, 2 (Reno, NV) [private collection]
Airline Motel (Oklahoma City, OK; now private collection in Pomeroy, WA)
Jantzen Buildings (Portland, OR)
Oregon Motor Motel (The Dalles, OR) [gone]
Empress Motel (Allendale, SC) [gone]
former Jantzen Distribution Center (Seneca, SC) [gone]
Belvedere Motor Hotel (San Antonio, TX) [gone]
Timpanogos Harley-Davidson (Lindon, UT)
Sine's Se Rancho Motel (Salt Lake City, UT) [vintage; gone]
Colonial Motel (St. George, UT) [vintage; gone]
Knight's Inn Motel: 1, 2 (Yakima, WA)
El Rancho Motel (Penticton, BC)
Jantzen (Vancouver, BC) [vintage; gone]
Jantzen (Havana, Cuba) [vintage; gone]
Hornsey Road Baths & Laundry: 1, 2 (London, England) [map]
Jantzen (Johnsonville, NZ) [vintage; gone]

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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