Endangered Architecture

In this age of vinyl banners and computer-cut lettering, classic hand-painted metal signs are rusting away and their neon tubes are shattering. Endangered Architecture uses technology to re-create yesterday's signs.

Signs joined the Endangered Architecture repertoire quite unexpectedly. In the summer of 2002, I took several photos of the Tucson Warehouse and Transfer Company building as a reference for the first Endangered Architecture model facade. Atop the building is a prime example of the sort of neon sign they just don't make any more... except maybe in Vegas. Its size, neon, chaser lights, and a well-rendered Mayflower moving truck make this sign a Tucson landmark.

Several days later, in a windy monsoon, the top half of the truck vanished. I suppose it's on the roof now. Looking back at my photos, you can clearly see the rusty seam that failed.

Tucson Warehouse sign before
July 6, 2002
Tucson Warehouse sign after
July 24, 2002

My resolve to capture the building and its sign in model form was cemented that day, and I got to thinking about other classic signs of Tucson, such as the one for Vince's Italian Restaurant. One day several years ago it was felled like a tree. Someone rescued it, and Vince stood for a while in a lot on North Main Avenue, serving up pizza on one side, and spaghetti on the other.

Vince down. Pizza side.
Vince's sign lies in its parking lot along Speedway in this photo, circa March 1998. This is the pizza side. Those are my feet sticking out on the left; I crawled under the corner for the wicked witch effect. The next day the sign was gone.

Vince up. Spahgetti side.
Vince reappeared shortly thereafter on North Main. This photo of the spaghetti side was taken on July 24, 2002.
Vince flopped over in late 2004.
The sign was moved to parts unknown in 2006.

Signs of Tucson refrigerator magnets are currently out of production.


Copyright Endangered Architecture - Dirk J. Arnold