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American Sign Museum Gains More Vintage Signs

See Rock City barnside saved from wrecking ball in Kentucky



Thanks to an end-of-the-year grant from our friends at the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, we installed several signs in the museum’s display area. One of these – the “Playhouse in the Park” sign – had been waiting in the wings for quite some time; the other two were more recent acquisitions, including “The Favorite Stove” sign, which was purchased with the grant money.

The 8 x 8-ft. “Playhouse in the Park” sign, which was donated by the Cincinnati-based theatre, originally hung in the theatre lobby. We installed it in the ASM lobby as we continue to feature local, iconic signage.

The handlettered, circa-1925 “Favorite Stove” sign was discovered by a tenant in the former Favorite Stove factory in Piqua, OH. The tenant researched the sign in the local Piqua historical files, and swears he saw a photo of the company staff with the sign in the background, but he can’t find the photo. The sign now hangs from the rafters, leading into the museum’s Showcard and Goldleaf section, and adjacent to the museum’s Trade Sign and Smalts Sign collection.

The third installation – the “See Rock City” barn – was assigned to our go-to exhibit builders, Sean Druley and Joe Civitello, who were two-thirds of the crew that disassembled the barn in October. The barn was located in the rolling hills of Spencer County, near High Grove, KY. It was slated for demolition due to road improvements on US 31. The father/son team of Mark Shumaker Sr. and Jr., who handled the demolition, donated the barn and were very enthusiastic project partners.

Installation was a multi-step process: The barn side was removed in sections, as much as possible, and strapped to the museum’s 16-ft. trailer.
First, we laid out 4 x 8-ft. sheets of particleboard on the museum floor, which served as background for the installed barn sections. This chipboard was “primed” in flat black, and the barn was reassembled on top. The outline of the board was traced onto the chipboard; the barn sections were then removed, and the chipboard sections were cut to match the barn’s profile and then installed on the wall.

The chipboard panels served two purposes: 1) the flat black “filled in” the visible space between the barn’s original boards; and 2) provided blocking on which to nail the barn sections to the drywall. Once the barn wall was reassembled and installed on the Museum wall, several coats of clear were sprayed to seal and preserve as much of the peeled and cracked original paint as possible. During this very involved process, every effort was made to keep the weathered sections of the barn as original as possible.


The takedown was well covered by the media, including a YouTube video produced by Jeff Watkins, a photographer for the Louisville Courier-Journal.



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