33 Vintage Signs of Columbus

July 29th, 2011

Restaurants, drive-ins, bowling alleys, florists and markets. Take a closer look at the well-aged signs that dot the urban landscape around Columbus in this excellent series of photos by R. Gust Smith (he has hundreds more over on Flickr). (33 photos)

south drive-in theatre sign in columbus ohio
The South Drive-In Theatre at 3050 South High Street opened in 1955. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
Shope's Tires Sign in Columbus Ohio
Shope's Tire Service opened at 1890 South High Street in 1967. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
The Clarmont Restaurant Sign in Columbus Ohio
The Clarmont Restaurant (684 South High Street) was founded in 1947. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
Club 185 Sign in German Village
Club 185 (185 E. Livingston Ave) has been serving German Village residents since 1954. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
planks cafe neon sign in columbus ohio
Plank's Cafe (743 Parsons Avenue) has been family owned since 1939. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
byers chrysler sign on east broad street in columbus ohio
A detail of the sign for Byers Chrysler at 390 East Broad Street. (Photo by: gmanviz (flickr))
lincoln theatre marquee
The Lincoln Theatre (769 East Long Street) first opened in 1928. For decades an entertainment hotspot for Columbus' African-American community, the construction of a highway in the 60's and 70's displaced many residents of the neighborhood and the Lincoln Theatre fell into a state of decay. In the early 90's an effort was organized to save the theater from demolition and the theater re-opened following a complete renovation in 2009. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
planters peanuts neon sign in downtown columbus ohio
A Planters Peanuts sign at The Peanut Shop (46 N High St) in downtown Columbus. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
beacon building sign in downtown columbus ohio
Construction on the Beacon Building (50 West Gay Street) was completed in 1956. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
columbus dispatch neon sign in downtown columbus
The sign for the Columbus Dispatch newspaper overlooks the State Capitol Building in downtown Columbus. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
florentine restaurant sign in columbus ohio
The Florentine Restaurant (907 West Broad St.) has been serving authentic Italian cuisine since 1945. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
hillcrest bowling sign in columbus ohio
The sign for Hillcrest Bowling Lanes at 3460 West Broad Street. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
Rife's Market sign in Grandview
Rife's Market in Grandview Heights was founded by Charles D. Rife in 1936 and remains family-owned and operated. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
peking dynasty neon sign in grandview heights
The sign for Peking Dynasty (1773 West 5th Avenue) in Grandview Heights. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
old big bear wearhouses sign in columbus ohio
The old Big Bear Warehouses sign in Grandview Heights (now the site of the Grandview Yard development). (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
K.A. Menendian Rugs Cleaned neon sign in columbus ohio
The sign for K.A. Menendian Rugs on West Fifth Avenue in Grandview Heights. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
WBNS television tower and neon sign in columbus ohio
WBNS television tower and sign near downtown Columbus. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
white castle hamburgers sign
Sign for the White Castle Hamburgers location at 965 North High Street in the Short North. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
michael's goody boy drive-in sign in columbus ohio
Michael's Goody Boy Drive-In (soon to be a Jimmy V's) at 1144 North High Street. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
North Market sign at night
The North Market was founded in 1876 and has been at its current location (59 Spruce Street) - a former farm implements warehouse - since 1995. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
wilsons auto service sign
Sign for Wilson's Auto Service (95 North Grant Ave). (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
little palace neon sign at night in downtown columbus
Little Palace (240 South 4th Street) re-opened under new ownership in 2010, maintaining many of the original fixtures including the distinctive neon sign. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
livingston theatre marquee
The Livingston Theater (1567 East Livingston Avenue) opened in 1946 on Columbus' east side. The theater is now closed but the marquee remains. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
Lisska Bar sign in columbus ohio
Lisska Bar & Grill (2665 E 5th Ave) on Columbus' East side was built in 1950. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
Rubino's Pizzeria neon sign in columbus ohio
Rubino's Pizzeria (2643 East Main Street) was founded in 1954 by Ruben Cohen. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
Brookside Motel Sign in Columbus Ohio
The old sign for Brookside Motel (3020 East Main Street). (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
C.R. O'Neil Real Estate Company Neon Sign
Close-up of the sign for C.R. O'Neil and Company Real Estate at 3151 North High Street in Clintonville. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
pierce cleaners sign in clintonville
The sign for Pierce Cleaners (5205 North High St) in Clintonville was recently restored. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
de santis florist neon sign in Columbus Ohio
De Santis Florist (865 Desantis Ct.) has been family owned and operated since 1927. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
capri lanes sign in columbus ohio
The sign for Capri Lanes (5860 Roche Drive) in Northland. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
dairy queen neon sign at night in columbus ohio
An old Dairy Queen sign (920 High Street, Worthington). (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
linden air sign in columbus ohio
The Linden-Air Drive-In Theatre (3168 Westerville Road) opened in 1950 and has now been demolished. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
wonder bread sign in downtown columbus ohio
Last but not least. The sign for the former Wonder Bread factory at 697 North 4th Street. (Photo by: R. Gust Smith)
  • Pizzaman731

    Should take out Desantis Florist because he was a big crook. serve time in prison and may still be in there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andy-Tants/100002430909403 Andy Tants

      that was a different desantis

  • Bsmith

    I remember in the late ’40s when my Dad drove toward downtown and passed that corner on 4th. The fantastic aroma of baking bread permeated the entire neighborhood! Almost as good as the aromas coming from the Planter’s Peanut store at Broad and High.

    • Mike & Patty Stone (Owners)

      The Peanut Shoppe is still downtown it has since move to Gay and High. Stop by and see us sometime we’d love to see you and your family.

      • jdsmithsr

        Memories as a little girl being downtown with my mother and sister in the winter and how wonderfully warm it felt to go inside and buy a small bag of the hot salted peanuts. I can still smell them, 60+ years later.

  • Riluvlucy

    My Grandmother used to live very close to The Wonder Bakery and when I would spend the weekend with her, you could smell the fresh bread in the air. I live in Georgia now but can not forget all the White Castle signs around town ( sure do miss them )

  • Pkandola

    That was sure walk through time. When we came for the 50th, we stayed just down the street from White Castle. Guess what our first meal was. Avi’s mouth was watering just thinking abour fresh sliders all the way from Cali. Really cool.

  • Ila Jean

    Should find The Clock Restaurant that was located downtown.

    • Violet

      I agree with you The Clock was very well known…had a friend that worked there for years

  • SG

    Suitable for framing. I don’t like in Columbus anymore but grew up knowing just about all of those signs. I will look up the rest of the album as linked above. Off the top of my head I would love to see a photo of Tom Tarpy’s, maybe Jai Lai, Del Mattos…they used to have an organ player over dinner. Just off the top of my head

  • localguy

    sweet zombie jesus, how hard is it to hold the camera straight? All these wacky angles made this really hard to read.

  • Chris

    I thought for sure the signs for Long’s Bookstore and Jerry’s would’ve been included, as 2 of the most iconic signs of Columbus. Otherwise, great series!

    • Rob

      The Jerry’s sign just isn’t the same with that stupid Tee Jaye’s logo :(

  • lorencesing

    These are great! One more to capture could be the old Fiesta Lanes sign, it’s in the lobby of The building that took its place, Lane Ave between the Starbucks and Piasda

  • Rob

    You should add Dan’s Drive In on S. High St. Great iconic sign with that retro look and feel. It’s been there since the 50s.

  • Bradford Sanders

    God. I’m old. :)

  • Mike Burkett

    What a trip down memory lane. Missing: The Top Steakhouse and Blue Danube Restaurant.

  • Arlette

    Where’s The “Garden” Theater sign in the Short North?

  • LD

    anyone have any pics of the old Beverly neon sign at the corner of Hamilton and Main

  • nietzschesdadsboss

    where’s the Super Duper elephant?

  • Guest

    where’s the Super Duper elephant?

  • Curtis2121

    How about Beverley-Drive-in, on South High St, in Columbus Ohio.? I was a Car-Hop on roller skates for this drive-in .

  • Michael Norquest

    I well I remember the Beverlee Drive -In, we’d stop by when we were in town for shopping at Lazarus. But I also remember Kuenning’s 19 on High Street but many of these signs I do remember, living in Columbus for less than a year when I was part of the opening crew for the now gone, very much missed and iconic Christopher Inn on Broad Street. I liked the old downtown of those years, having left Ohio for the West Coast, eventually military duty with the Coast Guard; never returned to Ohio except to visit the parents and other relatives. Not that the sign was shown here but one of the Keunning relatives, of the family which once owned those two restaurants in Columbus, now owns a very successful restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. I’m on their e-mail update lists even though I live in downtown Seattle–where I walk by the twin, round towers of the Westin which took it’s architectural clues from the nearly landmark building that was The Christopher Inn on Broad Street.
    This is a great site; brought back lots of memories…downtown Columbus was once gritty but interesting and almost cool…who would have thought?

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