This presentation is part of Are We There Yet? Preservation of Roadside Architecture & Attractions Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 10-12, 2018.
By Lynne Rostochil
As lovers of roadside architecture, we all know that there is nothing more exciting than stumbling across an old sign with crazy angles and peppy typography that harkens back to the halcyon days when we really thought that the future was now. Many of these impressive odes of yesteryear are still scattered around Oklahoma, which will be home to the 2018 Are We There Yet? Preservation of Roadside Architecture and Attractions Symposium in Tulsa in April, .
For the past two decades, architectural historian and photographer, Lynne Rostochil has travelled throughout the Sooner State, from large metropolitan areas to near ghost towns, documenting local mid-century modern architecture and signage. She has photographed such Route 66 icons as the Cotton Boll Motel sign in Canute and the transplanted 66 Bowl beauty in Chandler, as well as many lesser known examples, including the elegant O’Daniels Jewelry sign in McAlester and the beautifully preserved Indian Lodge sign in Wagoner.
In her presentation, Rostochil will discuss these stand-alone signs as well as older painted ghosts around the state, including a well-preserved ‘20s-era Coca-Cola sign that was uncovered when an old building in Oklahoma City was being demolished in 2012. The sign had been painted on the original wood siding of the building and was later covered over in brick. The crew that was working to tear down the building stacked the wood planks to be hauled off to the city dump, and when a group of Oklahoma City history lovers found out about the sign, they sprung into action and quickly gathered up all of the planks and placed them in storage, thus saving this very rare piece of local history.
One Oklahoma City sign maker, Mac Teague, was responsible for creating some of the most outlandish and stylish designs of the mid-century era. Teague started his career as a sign painter in 1950 in his hometown of Durant. He moved to Oklahoma City in 1954 to work at Tinker Air Force Base while also studying art at OCU. To make ends meet, he opened a small sign shop, and his businesses grew so rapidly that he constructed a much larger shop and went to work full time as a sign painter, designer, and builder. While many of Teague’s creations have been demolished over the years, a few examples remain in the metro area, and much of his work was documented in the fascinating book, Signs, Streets, and Storefronts: A History of Architecture and Graphics Along America’s Commercial Corridors by Martin Treu.
Rostochil will cover these and many more fascinating stories about Oklahoma’s interesting signage in her presentation.
Lynne Rostochil is an architectural historian, photographer, and founder of the Okie Mod Squad, a group dedicated to promoting and preserving Oklahoma’s impressive array of mid-century modern buildings and signage. She serves on the board of the Oklahoma City Foundation for Architecture and has written extensively about the Sooner State’s rich architectural heritage for many national publications and websites. She also writes a weekly blog for the Okie Mod Squad at okcmod.com.