Neon signs are among the most evocative of Route 66 icons, but for decades now many of them have been threatened by neglect or demolition. One sign that has been saved from the wrecking ball is the Meadow Gold sign at 11th Street and Lewis Avenue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Meadow Gold sign advertised dairy products as part of the Beatrice Foods Company for many years, beginning in the 1940s. Equipped with two 30-by-30 faces, the sign was the largest neon sign in Tulsa at the time of its construction. The sign went dark in the 1990s after decades of declining fortunes for the Beatrice Foods Company, and in the early 2000s, a car dealership bought the small building upon which the sign stood, intending to demolish it and the sign.
Through the efforts of preservationists and the larger Tulsa community, the sign was dismantled and donated to the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. A new home was needed for the sign, and a special building with commemorative plaques was erected at 11 Street (old Route 66) and Quaker Avenue, just a mile west of the sign’s original location. This new building is a low, one-story brick support pavilion that includes a prominent Route 66 road sign embedded in its mantel.
Restoration work on the sign included repairs to the metal and porcelain that composed the letters, and replacement of the deteriorated metal bar structures. New neon was also incorporated into the sign. Because of this effort, the old Route 66 corridor in Tulsa, which runs for 24 miles through the city, now has a new anchor and symbol of the importance of the old road in the history of the city.
The work was made possible partly due to a grant from the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, and the committed partnership of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture, the City of Tulsa, and the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, who all made significant contributions to the effort to save the sign.