Relight The Night Neon Sign Project

On June 20, 2012, the Historic Old Town Pocatello Foundation announced a symbolic new initiative that blends several interests and passions together into one bright, shiny package dubbed "Relight the Night."   Downtown enjoys many glowing traditions including an awesome collection of vintage signs.  These artistic lights of the night once rivaled those of any city.

 

However, bit by shining bit, Downtown's beckoning signs have begun to fade into darkness and despair--a stark contrast to the signs of vitality and life so evident in  Downtown's many eclectic and artistic events and businesses.  The Relight the Night Initiative intends to reverse the deterioration of these community icons--rescuing and restoring these landmarks--large or small--one by one to their former brilliance and glory as jewels of Pocatello's city center.

 

This restoration initiative/campaign will require what its leaders call "a perfect storm of collaboration,” a community of givers who are passionate about their unique sense of place and a business district willing to create an even more attractive and distinctive destination.  This collaborative storm will be accompanied by "SOS (Save Our Signs) alerts" inviting community members and organizations to come to the rescue of a struggling sign.

 

WHY CARE ABOUT SIGNS?

 

Signs are essentially social--they identify, promote, inform, and advertise.  They direct and decorate.  In short, they communicate with their viewers.  Signs don't merely advertise, they often possess value in and of themselves.  Some become loved simply because of their visibility from a certain street corner or even from a vantage point across town.  They create the "magic of the night" and add a burst of color to even the greyest of days!                                                                                                  

 

Yet, historic signs pose problems for those who would save them.  On occasion, downtown buildings are sadly reduced to ashes or rubble--leaving their signs essentially "homeless."   Or, new business owners and uses may naturally endanger signs as they seek a "new image" rather than one from a by-gone day.  These treasures of chasing light bulbs and flickering neon were originally crafted of the finest materials which nowadays can be prohibitively expensive to maintain.

                                                                           

Happily, some downtown signs are treasured and capably maintained by their property owners: Pocatello Electric, Key Bank, The Whitman, Molinelli’s Jewelers, Bangs Office Products, Greyhound Bus Depot, for example.  Others, for monetary reasons, experience the misfortune of  peeling, rusting, and  languishing away--both in storage  yards and on the buildings they grace but definitely not as in their glory days.     

  

Fortunately many of these historic signs call out to the "greater community"--they are signatures from the past and reminders of beloved events, places, and people.  Such signs allow the past to speak to the present in ways that buildings by themselves cannot.  They give continuity to public spaces and become part of the community memory.   With so much expense and expertise needed for their rescue, many of Pocatello's signs will require full community involvement and that's why the Relight the Night Initiative came into being.                                                                                                                                                 

Under Randy Dixon's chairmanship, like-minded organizers are compiling a growing list of "Signs of Interest" that may need a full rescue or maybe just a bit of resuscitation.  Some on the list no longer (or in some cases never did) reside/exist downtown--yet they lit up Pocatello's night skies for decades.

 

The first sign to be targeted for renovation was the historic Chief Theater sign. This is perhaps the most recognizable and most famous of all the downtown neon signs.  Many treasured memories were created at The Chief Theater, from first dates, first kisses and even proposals, many a past and present Pocatello resident has a story to share.  The Chief hung over Main Street from 1938 to 1993, when the Chief Theater burned to the ground.  It was a community effort to rehabilitate the theater, which was completed just prior to the fire.  Only two pieces of the theater were saved, the tile mosaic from the entryway and the sign.  The mosaic was first to be restored and now sits at the site of the theater.  The Chief sign, now completely renovated stands 50’ tall and brightly shines every night on Main Street.  A special thank you to all of the donors who made the sign renovation possible!

 

The second sign to be renovated was the Greyhound Bus Depot Sign.  The only sign of its kind remaining in the US today, the Greyhound now runs every evening at it's home on top of the Historic Greyhound Bus Station Building located on W. Bonneville, in front of the Union Pacific Railroad Depot.
 
And, our work has continued!
 
Signs relit since November 29, 2013:
 
Bangs Stationary - restored by owner
Chief Theater - restored by City of Pocatello and Relight the Night
Meyers Shoe Repair - restored by owner
Greyhound Bus Depot - restored by Relight the Night
Chopsticks Cafe - restored by Relight the Night
Key Bank - incandescent restored by owner
The Paris - restored by owner and Relight the Night
Pocatello High School Indian neon sign - restored by Pocatello High and Relight the Night
Bannock Memorial Star - restored by Portneuf Health Trust
Odd Fellows Hall I.O.O.F. - restored by owner
Teamsters Local 983 - restored by owner
Historic Office Bar & Grill - restored by owner
Cafe' Sign - Gypsy Tattoo restored by owner
Hotel Yellowstone - restored by owner
Ukiah Rexall Drug Sign - restored by William Eames and Michael Snyder Haas
Fred's Photo Service ( restored by Relight the Night and Cuoio Family)
 
Coming in Spring 2021:  Buster Brown Shoes neon sign
You can be an instrumental part of bringing more light and new life to Historic Old Town Pocatello. Share your pride in our community and please contribute to help "Save Our Signs."  Contributions can be made on-line by clicking here, or may be mailed to:
 
Relight The Night
C/O Historic Old Town Pocatello Foundation
PO Box 222
Pocatello, ID 83204
 
Contributions may be tax deductible.  Please consult your tax advisor. Thank you!
 
Please enjoy the slide show below featuring the Chief Theater sign renovation project followed by photos of additional Relight The Night projects:

The signature fund raising event for Relight The Night is the Annual Neon Street Dance.  Located on the 200-300 blocks of East Center Street on the first Saturday in August each year, the event includes live music, great food and fun for the entire family!  Plan to join us on Saturday, August 7, 2021 from 5pm to Midnight.  Admission is free, but donations are welcome!

Old Town Pocatello, Inc.

420 N Main St

Pocatello, ID 83204

208.232.7545

spalagi@oldtownpocatello.com

Click Here to see what's happening downtown this week!

News

Portneuf Valley Farmers Market Now Open!

The Farmers Market will be open every Saturday from 9am to 1pm through the end of October at the Old Town Pavilion.  Plan to come purchase local, fresh produce and food items.  

 

First Friday Art Walk

  August 7!

The August First Friday Art Walk will be held in locations throughout Old Town on Friday, August 7.  The festivities will begin at 5pm and will include local and regional art, live music, food, fashion and more.  Plan now to come stroll through Old Town and enjoy the charm of our monthly Art Walk!

 

Relight the Night Historic Neon Sign Project 

Relight the Night is in the process of completing the fundraising necessary to relight the Buster Brown Neon Sign.  Donations are currently being accepted.  To help make this next sign relighting possible click on the Donate Now button below.  Thank you!

 

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