After more than three years and at least three dozen phone calls from museum supporters, the iconic Big Top sign is now safe in the hands of the American Sign Museum.
Originally displayed in Mason, OH about a half hour from the museum, the sign has stood unattended after the closing of the restaurant in 2005.
I had tried several times to contact the owner of the property, but to no avail. It wasn't until Karen Duesing, the realtor who had listed the commercial plot, got involved that the owner agreed to donate the sign.
The imminent widening of the adjacent state route must have also been a factor since the sign stood in the way of 'progress'.
Unfortunately, the sign had suffered a great deal of paint damage in the years since it first came to our attention. More recently, the sign suffered a blow to the bottom panel, collapsing the sheetmetal.
The crew of our go-to-guys--United-Maier Signs--took extreme care in removing the sign and hauled it off to their shop to see what could be done to save this original section of the sign. Whether the metal can be saved or not, this sign will most assuredly require re-painting--an exception to our general policy of not re-painting signs.
We're thrilled we could save this Cincinnati icon. It will have a prominent place in our Signs of Cincinnati exhibit when we move to our new, larger site.