A few weeks ago, I emailed Melinda Roberts, who runs the Wisconsin Historical Markers Blog to ask her to add a link to my website to a post she'd written about the Neon: Darkness Electrified exhibit. Little did I know that the email would lead to an attempt to save a historic neon sign in Ashwaubenon.
It turns out, Melinda is a bit of a neon sign enthusiast herself. In addition to writing about and photographing Wisconsin historical markers on her blog, she takes pictures of vintage neon signs and writes about them as well. So she emailed me back and asked me if I knew anything about the Sky-lit Motel sign seen here.
As a matter fact, I made an unsuccessful attempt to have it preserved before it was demolished along with the hotel, so I knew all about it. I told Melinda that it was currently and unfortunately being taken apart and sold. Now it looks like this:
The sign itself is from the early 1960's era of atomic design and architecture; think, The Jetson's. Motel signs like this were very common during that time. As you can see, the white faces of Sky-lit sign, most of the star, and the oval "Sorry, No Vacancy" have all been removed from the sign. I informed Melinda of what was happening to the sign and that the fate of these pieces, and the sign itself, is currently uncertain.
To Melinda, this uncertain fate was an unacceptable one, and within a few days time, she had assembled a team of people who cared enough about this sign to try to save it. Thanks to Melinda's efforts, as I type this post, the Jones Sign Company of Green Bay has signed on to take the sign down and store it until money can be raised to restore the sign. A fund has also been set up by the Brown County Historical Society who will try to raise $3,000 to $5,000 to get the restoration of the sign underway and to find a safe place for its display.
As I get more information on the fund, I'll pass it along in case people are interested in donating. For now, here's the sign's story as told by local TV station, WFRV: