Friday, March 9, 2012

Historic Neon Signs in Columbia, Mo.

International Order of Odd Fellows Sign, Columbia, Mo.

With all the spring strolling weather in Columbia this week, I’ve covered many miles downtown on foot. On Monday, while shooting some pictures for a free-lance photography assignment, I found myself drawn to old neon signs in the downtown area. Here are several pictures and the information I discovered when I popped my head in the businesses with a few questions. 

The International Order of the Odd Fellows Sign (southwest corner of 10th and Walnut) features the letters IOOF. Since the building is home to a local insurance company and the acronym was unknown to me, I had often wondered about this sign. The friendly staff at the insurance company told me that it was the Odd Fellows sign and the organization owns the building. The sign, made of porcelain, is currently being restored by the original company who built it. Upon completion, the sign will be lit for the first time in 40 years.

D&M Sound Sign, Columbia, Mo.

D&M Sound, a fixture in the high fidelity business in downtown Columbia for 40 years, sign has an interesting history. D&M’s owner Anne Kelly Moore’s father owned Kelly Press. When she moved her business from Broadway to its current location at the corner of 8th and Locust twenty years ago after a devastating downtown fire, she used a 1950s Kelly Press sign to craft a new D&M sign. According to Anne: “It was very carefully restored then and painted with our logo. When we took it down for maintenance again a few years ago (about 2006) and Jim McCarter from Creative Neon did even more restoration and added the neon.” Anne notes that since the sign does not conform with the present ordinance, though it is grandfathered by the city, she is careful when taking the sign down for maintenance.

The Tiger Hotel Sign, Columbia, Mo.

The Tiger Hotel’s neon, gracing the Columbia skyline, can be seen for miles and often is used as a reference point to out-of-town visitors and locals alike. After 42 years of darkness, the sign was restored and relit in 2004. 
I’ve been building a photograph collection of iconic Columbia, Mo. signs and soon realized that what may appear ordinary today could be iconic ten or fifty years from now. The signs tell a story of time and place (and often fond memories) and once they are gone, the image likely disappears from the mind. Accordingly, I also snapped a couple of shots that day of two longtime downtown fixtures whose signs will soon disappear from the scene: The Regency Hotel and Cool Stuff. 


  1. Annie, I love neon - and so did my brother. We went to the Museum of Neon a few years ago. It used to be in downtown Los Angeles, but they moved a little east to Glendale. How about coming out and letting me take you there?

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