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Rooftop Signs


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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 07:50 PM

Our discussion on top of building signage has broughte to remember something that is very old school.  The subject of that matter are rooftop signs.  Back in the day, they were very common throughout many U.S. cities, and Fort Worth was no exception.  I'm sure many of you are not even aware that many of our current skyscrapers had large neon rooftop signs on them at one time.  I'm sure that I will forget a few, but I will try to run down as many as I can remember.  I'm sure I can go back and edit this list. 

 

Probably the most famous and well known rooftop sign was on the old Continental National Bank, which later was renamed the Landmark Tower.  What was reportedly the world's largest digital clock and revolving sign was erected on the roof of the building in 1957.  It was 32 feet tall, approximately 40 feet square, and was four sided.  It elevated the apparent height of the building from 380 feet to 420 feet.  Two of the sides read "CNB" in green and the other two sides were the digital timepiece.  It was removed after the tornado of 2000 and the building was ultimately imploded in 2006.  The building was the tallest in the city from 1957 until 1974.

 

The second tallest building in the 1960's, and the building that held the city's tallest title for the longest amount of time, is 714 Main.  That building actually had three signs on it.  In the 50's, 60's, and 70's there were two rooftop signs on the south and east side that sat above the cornice.  The each read "Continental Life".  They were illuminated in red neon.  They were removed around 1982 after Continental Plaza/777 Main was constructed across the street to the east.  This blocked the view of the sign from I-35W.  The third sign that was on the building was erected in the 60's and removed in the 70's.  Continental Oil Company (Conoco) also had offices in the building and they erected a "Conoco Brand" revolving neon logo on top of the building. 

 

The Fair Building/Commerce Building became the headquarters of World Service Life in the 60's and that building and the Oil and Gas Building became known as the Service Life Center.  They erected a red and blue neon revolving weather forecasting sign on top in the mid 1960's.  The letters originally read "SLC" but were later changed to "WSL" before the sign was removed.  It lasted until the 1980's, I think.

 

The Blackstone Hotel, once had a roof top sign on it that read "Hilton Hotel".  It was red neon. 

 

The Hotel Texas, now Fort Worth Hilton, once had a green neon sign on the roof that read, "Hotel Texas".  When it was converted into a Sheraton, a new "Sheraton" neon roof top sign was placed on top of the building.  When it was converted into a Hyatt Regency, the rooftop sign and structure were removed and the mechanical equipment and brick elevator overrun were hidden by a new illuminated roof screen.

 

At one time the Electric Building Annex had a rooftop sign facing west that read "Hollywood Theater".  Back in the day, that building had three Hollywood Theater signs and two that read either "Fort Worth Power & Light Co." or "Texas Electric Service Co."

 

The Bob R. Simpson Building/First National Bank had a rooftop sign for many years that read "First National Bank".  It was one-sided and faced south. 

 

One block away, Century Life had a four neon rooftop signs that faced all four directions and had their lighthouse logo perched on the corner of the roof at 8th and Houston.  Even thought the building was only 5 stories, the sign had good visibility from all directions.  When Fort Worth National Bank built their new building in 1952 (now the Oncor Building), the view from the north was blocked somewhat by the taller building.

 

Hunter Plaza once had two neon signs on top.  At first it was the "Fortune Arms Apts.", and later it was switched out to "Berkeley", named after the Berkeley Apartments.

 

Ellison's Furniture at 7th and Throckmorton had a rooftop sign that faced south.  The building was demolished in the 1970's and it was five stories. 

 

Stripling's Department Store had a sign on top of their 7 story building for a while at 1st and Houston.

 

The Westbrook Hotel at 4th and Main had a neon rooftop sign that ran along the cornice on the east side of the building.  The building and sign were demolished in 1978.

 

The one rooftop sign that is still in place is on the Lone Star Gas building.  That neon blue flame was put on top of the building shortly after it was expanded from four to seven stories.  The building is now a City of Fort Worth Historic and Cultural Landmark. 

 

Another rooftop neon sign that not only is still in place, but is still functioning is Williamson-Dickie located on top of their manufacturing building at Jennings and Vickery. 

 

The two wedding cake retail buildings located at Henderson & Pennsylvania and 3204 Camp Bowie once had neon rooftop signs on them.

 

Many of the old Buddie's store had neon rooftop signs.  They were scattered about the city.  Many are still standing, but they have been remodeled and it's hard to tell what they once were.

 

Those are some of the ones that I can remember.



#2 Now in Denton

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:03 PM

I guess the lone survivor would be Montgomey (Wards) Plaza. I also recall one of the downtown signs gave the weather. And I do remember the "Blue Flame"  on top of the gas company. 

 

I wonder if the old Tandy Center building could be considered a sign ? Yes they had red candles during Christmas time. But they would sometime put United Way, Stock Show, so forth. I think most of the time it simply said "Tandy Center"  I may be wrong on that one? I guess our Tandy Center was our version of what the Omni in Dallas has now ?  

 

Well I been channel surfing of late. CNN and FOX  have been talking with people from Fort Worth. And I see the night skyline in the background. I do like the simple white lights with no signs. But I still would like for our taller buildings to have color changing lights for events and holidays. 



#3 JBB

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:34 PM

That's a great list.  I don't recalling seeing photos of many of those.  Now I have an excuse to dive into the Jack White collection this week.

 

I always loved the Tandy Center lights and that and the buildings lined with white/yellow incandescent bulbs are how I remember downtown at night when I was growing up.



#4 John T Roberts

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:47 PM

It might be better to look at all of UTA's historic photographs. Jack White's Collection is a good start, but there are many more downtown photographs in the other collections from UTA.

#5 Bonfire98A

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:54 AM

Don't forget Kincaid's....

 

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#6 John T Roberts

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 12:03 PM

I did forget about Kincaid's.  I'm sure there are several smaller buildings with rooftop signs that I have not mentioned.



#7 Bill Sievers

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:09 PM

I believe the old Frank Kent Cadillac dealership had a rooftop sign too if my memory serves me correctly.



#8 John T Roberts

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 03:47 PM

Yes, it did.  My memory is really getting bad. 






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