House Signs

(hit "refresh" to get the most recent version of this page; click on photos for larger images)

The photos and links at this page are meant to accompany an article that I wrote for the Society for Commercial Archeology's Journal.

Johnnie Herrington Insurance
Palestine, TX
2011: 2018:
Johnnie Herrington Insurance opened here in 1946 as a real estate office and insurance company. This sign is probably from the 1950s when the real estate business had been phased out. Johnnie Herrington was a fixture in Palestine. From the 1940s through his retirement in 2004, he was an active member of several civic organizations. He was the President of the Chamber of Commerce and served as the mayor for about five years. Herrington passed away in 2007 and his insurance business had closed by 2013. One of his sons bought the office and turned it into his home. Around 2016, he had the sign on the lot restored. It's not known if the neon flames were ever animated. For more, see this website. [map]

Vic's Cabins
Calumet, MI
River Realty
Guerneville, CA
C.R. O'Neil & Co. Realtors
Columbus, OH
Leavitt Realty [gone]
Lake George, NY
The Vic's Cabins sign is probably from the 1950s. There was apparently some text between "Vic's" and "Cabins" originally. [map]

Russian River Realty opened here in 1939. This sign might be from then. [map]

C.R. O'Neil & Co. Realtors opened in 1921. This sign was built in 1943. When the office moved to a new location in 1970, the sign was brought along. Wire mesh was added to the sign in the 1960s to protect the neon during civil rights protests. In the late 1970s, animated signs were outlawed in Columbus. However, the O'Neil sign was deemed a local landmark and the "For Sale/Sold" continues to flash sequentially. For more, see this website. [map]

Leavitt Realty was established in 1928. The sign is probably from the 1950s and apparently had neon originally. This photo is from 2011. The sign was removed around 2019.

Doll Hut
Anaheim, CA
Gingerbread House
Mehama, OR
unidentified motel [gone]
McCammon, ID
The Doll Hut opened as a truck stop cafe in the late 1930s. It was known as the Sunkist Cafe by 1941. By the 1950s, the business had become a bar. It was named the Doll Hut in 1957 and this sign may be from then. The place became a music venue in 1989. In the late 1990s or early 2000s, the "Doll Hut" turquoise tubing was covered with clear plexiglass to protect it from rock-throwing vandals. I don't believe the sign has been lit since around 2018. For more, see this website. [map]

The Gingerbread House restaurant opened in 1953. The sign is probably from the 1960s. The sign never had neon. The original corrugated plastic panels are still backlit. A readerboard was added below the sign in the late 1980s or early 1990s. The sign was repainted in the early 1980s and it has not been touched since then. [map]

This unidentified motel was long gone but this house-shaped sign remained. It appeared to be from the 1950s. Some people referred to the place as the "Cottage Motel" but that might have been a nickname. The sign was removed around 2018.

The Shack
Seattle, WA
Shanty Tavern
Seattle, WA
Cox Family Restaurant
Morehead City, NC
The Shack drive-in restaurant was located in Seattle on Harbor Avenue from 1962 until the 1980s. The sign was rescued by Java Bean and installed in front of their shop. The restaurant closed in 2019 and The Spot opened in the space. The Shack sign is still there. For more, see this website. [map]

The Shanty Tavern sign bears a strong resemblance to The Shack sign above. The Shanty Tavern moved at least a couple of times which makes me suspect, if the story above is incorrect, that the sign at The Shack might have been a repurposed sign from the Shanty. This location opened in 1961 and the sign appears to be from then. [map]

The Cox Family Restaurant opened in 1976. The plastic box sign was installed above the sign at that point. The current text on the arrow was probably added at the same time. According to some locals, the sign advertised for the B&B Restaurant or B&B Fried Chicken by the 1960s. However, some people remember the sign representing a barn rather than a house. Another person recalls that actual steam came out of the chimney, which seems unlikely. These photos are from 2007. Around 2015, the house panels were repainted. [map]

Cozy Hollow Lodge
Big Bear Lake, CA
The Cozy Hollow Lodge opened in the mid-1980s. The sign was built in the late 1980s. The fire in the fireplace and the smoke from the chimney flash on and off at night. [map]

Homestead Motel
San Luis Obispo, CA
The Homestead Motel was built around 1961 and this sign appears to be from then. The sign originally had a neon tree perched on top, opposite the house. There was also a fence detail and another panel reading "No/Vacancy" and "Free TV" attached below the current text panel. At some point, to compensate for that missing panel, the "Motel" channel letters on the faux wood background were moved over slightly to make room for vertical, red neon tubing reading "No/Vacancy." The sign was originally installed on 45-foot-tall sign poles, making it prominently visible from Highway 101. To comply with a change in the sign code, the poles had to be reduced by 10 feet. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Brookdale Lumber
Tacoma, WA
Mac's Old House
Antioch, CA
The Brookdale Lumber was established in 1943. This sign is probably from the 1960s. The panels are still lit at night. The chimney smoke's incandescent bulbs are now LED bulbs. They are lit sequentially. [map]

The Mac's Old House sign was originally built for Steve's Cabin, a bar in Pittsburg, California. Steve's had opened by 1936. When it closed in the 1950s, Floyd "Mac" McKinney bought the sign and the business's liquor license and opened Mac's Old House as a bar at his house in Antioch. The bar opened on St. Patrick's Day in 1956. It later became a restaurant. When the sign was adapted, there was not enough room for all of the letters. So, "OLD" was spelled without the "D". Originally, the arrow panels had multiple neon stripes on both ends. The cocktail glass has always been part of the sign. For more, see this website. [map]

Casa Linda Motel
Tucson, AZ
2008: 2012: 2018:
The Casa Linda Motel sign was built in 1951. The "Motel" portion of the sign was painted over when the units became apartments. In 2016, the sign was partially restored. The sign was repainted and the neon on top of the sign was restored. The neon below was removed. The hinged "NO" box is still there. [map]

House of Spirits
Los Angeles, CA

now in Glendale, CA
The House of Spirits signs were built by the QRS Neon Co. and installed in 1947. In 1958, the liquor store moved across the street and had the signs relocated to the new location. The pole sign was built then. In 2018, the store closed after a fire and the property was fenced off. During that time, the bottle sign on the right was stolen. In 2020, the rest of the signs were removed and put in storage at the Museum of Neon Art's storage facility in Pomona. In 2022, the signs were displayed in the museum's sign garden. There are plans to restore the signs and return them to the Echo Park neighborhood when a site is found. For more, see this website.

More House Signs:
Ta-Tel Lodge (Kings Beach, CA) [map]
House of Pies (various locations, CA)
Cottage Inn (Cripple Creek, CO)
Log Cabin Motel (Montrose, CO)
Fox's Beverly Pub (Chicago, IL)
Fushing House (Chicago, IL)
Parker House Sausage Company (Chicago, IL)
Finnegan's Cottage (Loves Park, IL)
Mr. Chicken (Watkins Glen, NY) [gone]
former Dog House (Cleveland, OH) [map]
Muffler House (Marion, OH)
Otto's Sausage Kitchen (Portland, OR)
Sandy Hut (Portland, OR)
Jumbo House Hamburgers (Columbia, TN)
Sunset Motel (Pine Bluffs, WY) [gone]

If you know of any others, I'd love to hear from you.

Main SCA Article
Companion Page
Main Signs Page