Northwest Neon VIII

“They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway!”

When the Drifters sang these words back in 1963, I doubt they were singing about Everett’s Brodway Avenue. However, as a former stretch of Highway 99, Broadway Ave is still dotted with great neons from its past life as a major highway. Today’s post will examine bright neon signs all found along Broadway.


Everett Motel; Everett, Washington

Guarding an empty lot just down the street from Everett Community College is this gem. The motel itself was built in 1940, but its unclear if the sign is of the same vintage. I would guess that the sign probably dates from the 1950s or 60s.

The motel had undoubtedly known many owners over the decades, but four of such owners were Gloria and Orlo Williams, and Mr. and Mrs. Mel Graeber, who appear to have owned it in the 60s, maybe the 50s.  Orlo was born and raised in Everett, and he also passed away in Everett in 2009. He and Gloria owned a local real estate company that continues to this day.

Before the days of area codes, the motel’s number was AL(pine)2-0518.

The story of the Everett Motel seems to follow the same narrative as most historic motels. When I-5 opened through Everett in 1969 and flashy chain hotels became the norm, it fell on hard times, descended into disrepair, and attracted the wrong kinds of guests and residents. There are Yelp reviews for the Everett Motel as recently as 2012, the same year the motel was listed as for sale. It’s unclear when the motel was demolished, although it was sometime between 2012 and 2016.

Something unique about this sign are the little bubbles advertising the motel’s smoke shop, a fixture that stayed until the very end.



“Open Late” at Broadway Ave & California St; Everett, Washington

It’s open late! But just what “it” refers to is unclear.

These days, this neon sort of points to a Taco Bell, and sort of points down California Street. I don’t know if the sign is referring to a restaurant, a bowling alley, or perhaps a grocery store, but whatever it originally pointed out is surely long gone. The sign, however, is better maintained than most.



Ray’s Drive-In; Everett, Washington

Speaking of well-maintained neons, check out this one from Ray’s Drive-In! Ray and Ruby Campbell opened this local icon in 1962, buying a small house and tearing it down to build the restaurant. It has been family owned for the last 56 years, and is now run by the Campbells’ grandson, Jeff.


Northwest Neon VII

It may be the last day of the week, but never fear, the weekly neons have arrived! I just returned from a short vacation to Indiana. While it may not sound like a vaction spot to many, I have to say it was amazing walking through a town founded in 1808 that still retained many of its original buildings! For any lovers of U.S. history, southern Indiana is actually a great spot.

But now that I am back on Tokul soil, it’s time to shift the focus back to Washington’s history… And it’s way-cool neons!


Ivar’s Fish Bar; Seattle, Washington

Some of you may remember the main Ivar’s sign featured in the second installment of this series. This nautical neon also comes from the waterfront Fish Bar in downtown Seattle, hanging proudly above the outdoor eating area, which is popular with resident humans and seagulls.



Blue Moon Tavern; Everett, Washington

Not to be confused with the famous U-District bar in Seattle, the history of this tavern is much harder to come by. The Blue Moon opened on Colby Street sometime in the 1940s. It moved to its present location in 1960.



Viking Restaurant; Stanwood, Washington

Located in a great 1960s Viking-ship-shaped strip mall, this restaurant probably opened sometime in the 60s. It passed through the hands of several owners in the past decade or so before closing in 2015. As far as I can tell, the restaurant has been vacant since then, but it still has all of its neat original neon signs.



Northwest Neon VI

Who else is ready to see some more way-cool northwest neons? Today we’re going to look at three signs from the same northern city: Bellingham.


Pho 99; Bellingham, Washington

Located just down the hill from the southern end of Western Washington University is Pho 99. There is very little information to be found online about this building and its past tenants. I think it’s safe to say the building and the neon date from the 1960s, and the shape of the sign suggests that it was originally an ethnic restaurant.



A New Leaf Florist; Bellingham, Washington

The story of A New Leaf begins in 1980 when owner Trish Manley opened JQ’s Flowers on Railroad Avenue in downtown Bellingham. The shop occupied two different spots on Holly Street before finally moving to it’s current location on Cornwall Ave. Although the sign has clearly had a recent paint job, its shape suggests that it’s from the 1940s or 1950s.



Horseshoe Cafe; Bellingham, Washington

It may no longer be a neon, but it used to be. This sign was installed in the 1950s and has undergone just a few changes since. The Horseshoe Cafe is Washington’s oldest continually-run restaurant (although it did close for a brief time in 2015 for remodeling). It has been serving up grub to businessmen, tourists, and college students alike since 1886–before Washington achieved statehood.

Northwest Neon V

Welcome back for the next installment of Northwest Neons! It’s hard to believe that time is well on its way to August, but there are still plenty more neat neons to come!


Dari-De-Lite; Mount Vernon, Washington

Yes, this sign is no longer a neon, but let’s appreciate it for what it was. Dari-De-Lite opened next to a Shell gas station sometime around 1950. Though all of the neon is gone from both the sign and the building, they look just about the same now as they did 68 years ago. Unfortunately, the sign is in miserable shape, but it surely still lures hungry passersby in with promises of soft serve.



Sav-Mart; Wenatchee, Washington

Sav-Mart has been known for its selection, its customer service, and I would guess it’s signage since 1962. Located off Wenatchee Ave, it is a family-owned appliance business that has somehow been able to compete against big-box retailers. Both the building and its signs still scream 1962 in a very cool way.


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Sav-Mart; Wenatchee, Washington

You may be thinking that this isn’t a neon, but before you make that assessment, look way at the top at the atomic spike. That part of the sign happens to be a neon, and a very special neon at that.

This space-age wonder is a Neo-Lectra, one of about 100 jack-shaped neons designed by Oklahoman Jim Henry in the 1960s. Although produced near Tulsa, there are a few samples of these signs remaining across the U.S.

While it may look small, the atomic structure is actually near 13 feet across. Neo-Lectras sold for about $1,000 a piece, which is roughly equivalent to $8,344 today.


Northwest Neon IV & Happy Birthday!

Today, there is a lot to celebrate! Not only has summer finally arrived in Western Washington, and not only is it the next installment in Northwest Neon, but yesterday was The Northwest Past’s third birthday!

Thank you to everybody who has taken the time to read, like, and comment over the past three years! With the terrible twos out of the way (and few, irregular posts) I hope year three is a great one!


Aloha Motel; Bellingham, Washington

In the glory days of Highway 99, before all sections of I-5 were complete, Samish Way served as part of a motel-lined north-south arterial through Bellingham. Coming a little late in the game, but offering many modern amenities, the Aloha Motel opened in the very early 1960s.

Sadly, in recent years, the motel became the site of methamphetamine and murder. The city voted to condemn the building in 2014, and it was torn down the following year. Controversies and permit problems have kept the lot empty, but its tropical neon lives on.



Totem Family Dining; Everett, Washington

Also located off of Highway 99 (at the intersection of Rucker Ave and 44th), Totem Family Dining has been serving great food for over 60 years. Built in 1950 as a drive-in, Totem was a hot hang-out for local teenagers. Long-time owners, Bliss and Joyce Settergren, turned the drive-in into a dine-in.

For almost seven decades, a huge cedar story pole stood at this same intersection, giving the restaurant its name. The totem pole, carved in the 1923 by the talented William Shelton, was removed in 1996 after rot was discovered. The damaged totem pole was returned to the Tulalip people, who hope to restore and someday display it.



Hillside Motel; Conway, Washington

Like the other two neons seen today, the Hillside Motel was another by-product of Highway 99. The motel’s roots go back to the early 1940s, when a gas station/grocery store began renting out rooms to travelers. A motel and restaurant were built in 1946.

Sometime in the 1950s, old barracks from Whidbey Island were brought to the site for use as additional motel rooms. Hillside began offering monthly rates in the 1960s. The prettier side of the sign, facing I-5, claims that the motel would be “back in 2010,” but it doesn’t seem like the motel was ever revived. A fire ravaged part of the vacant motel in November 2014.

Galen and Debora Johnson of Hillside Enterprises LLC applied for a permit that would allow them to build a new, three-story motel on the site. Their permit request was denied.

Northwest Neon III

Happy Independence Day! While you celebrate 242 years of independence with family, friends, barbeque, and fireworks, check out these neat northwest neons!


Pacific Stone Company; Everett, Washington

This has to be one of the coolest signs ever! Located off of old Highway 99 in Everett, this is one of the many signs that dots the former major highway.

While the Pacific Stone Company was founded in 1999, this sign and the building date back to the 1950s. Originally designed and installed for Farmer’s Garden Center, the name on the sign was changed to match the new business’ name.



Cascade Pizza Inn; Bellingham, Washington

This chain has been serving up Greek-style pizza since 1974.



Harvey’s Lounge & Grill; Edmonds, Washington

While some sources claim that Harvey’s Lounge was established in 1910, most seem to agree that Harvey’s (at least at this location) dates back to the 40s or 50s. Located off of Highway 99 in Everett, its building was known as Monroe’s Tavern as early as 1949. Monroe’s was owned by a man named Harvey Robinson, so it is likely that the Lounge rebranded itself sometime in the next decade.


Northwest Neon II

Welcome back for the next installment of Northwest Neons! If you missed part one, you can catch up on that here. I also want to say thank you to my friend, Keegan, for helping me gather snapshots of neon signs throughout the state. Some of his pictures will appear today and in the weeks to come.

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Ivar’s Fish Bar; Seattle, Washington

Ivar’s is probably Washington’s best-known eatery chain. Its roots date back to 1938 when Seattle local, Ivar Haglund, opened the first Seattle aquarium on Pier 54. Children and adults alike flocked to Pier 54 to view local animals such as Patsy the Seal, Barney the Barnacle, and Oscar and Olivia the Octopuses. Outside, Haglund sat on a stool with his guitar and sang songs about the aquarium’s inhabitants.

Before long, Haglund and West Seattleite Roy Buckley opened a fish and chips counter across from the seal cage. Its wild success angered the neighboring Steve’s Restaurant, causing the counter to close after only a year. In 1946, Haglund opened his Acres of Clams Restaurant and accompanying Fish Bar, which remain in business today.



Skagit Valley Family YMCA; Mount Vernon, Washington

The Skagit Valley Family YMCA has served Mount Vernon and its environs for over 100 years. Its white brick building has stood on Fulton Street since 1941.

This sign, sporting the logo the Y used between 1897 and 1967, probably dates to the 40s or 50s. Several years ago, it was removed from the building and placed into storage.



Naches Tavern; Greenwater, Washington

On the way to Mount Rainier in the tiny town of Greenwater sits the Naches Tavern. Origins of the tavern go back to 1919, but the sign likely dates from the 1950s. The name, likely derived from the nearby Naches Pass, has been associated with the tavern since at least the 1920s. The original 1919 building burned down sometime after 1926, and the current one replaced it.

Summer 2018 Theme

Today is the first day of summer, which also means it is the official start of the summer 2018 series here on The Northwest Past! In 2016 we explored historic motels around the state, and although 2017 saw a hiatus from a summer theme, I’m happy to announce the theme for this summer is… Northwest Neons!

Over the next several weeks, we will explore historical signs around the state and the histories of the places they advertise. So buckle your seat belts and get ready for the first installment in Northwest Neons!


Apple Cup Cafe; Chelan, Washington

Some of you probably recognize this sign from a few months back on the blog when I attended the Mahogany and Merlot event in Chelan. Named in honor of the hydroplane races hosted on Lake Chelan from 1957-1960, The Apple Cup Cafe has been serving locals and tourists alike for 61 years.

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Cocoanut Grove; Bellingham, Washington

Perched off of Marine View Drive in northern Bellingham, the unique spelling of this bar’s name suggests it, or at least its sign, has been around since the 1940s or 50s. In addition to food and drinks, the Cocoanut Grove  offered live entertainment and dancing as well. The Grove was also the location of a September 1980 meeting of Veronica Lynn Compton, a protegee of strangler Kenneth Bianchi, and victim Kim Breed.

The bar was noted in a June 28, 1953 journal entry of poet Gary Snyder as he described a trip to Gooseberry Point: “We went back by the same road, and by the outskirts of Bellingham Jack pointed out a ratty looking place called Coconut Grove where he said he had spent time drinking with a ‘rough crowd.’”


Rainier Beer; Seattle, Washington

Yes, I know a reproduction sign has been placed atop the old Rainier Brewery in Georgetown, but this one is the original, now on display at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).

Rainier Beer was launched in 1893 by the son of a German immigrant who had run a successful brewery in Wisconsin. 11 years later, Rainier’s producer, the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company, was the largest brewery West of the Mississippi. By 1912, it was the sixth-largest brewery in the world.

Although the brewery’s success was hampered by Prohibition, both it and the Rainier name were purchased in the mid-1930s by Canadian brewer Fritz Sick and his son, Emil. New management brought life back into the company, whose success allowed the Sicks to purchase the Seattle Indians, a local baseball team, and rename them in honor of the beer.

The iconic revolving neon “R” was installed atop the brewery sometime in the 1950s. It greeted millions of people passing through Seattle until 2000, when Rainier beer ceased production. For several years a Tully’s Coffee “T” stood in the same location, but in 2013, a replica Rainier R was constructed and placed atop the old brewery.


Parking Palace

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of parking in the city? Parallel parking? Pay-to-park lots? Dark cement parking garages?

How about a groovy parking garage-meets-shopping-center?

Meet the Parkade in Spokane, Washington!

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Park in style!

There is no doubt that the automobile’s postwar popularity affected the US in the 1950s, but it affected Spokane, too. At this time of economic prosperity, downtown Spokane, which had been the city’s commercial hub for decades, was turning into a ghost town. As vacant buildings crumbled, they were demolished and turned into parking lots.

In 1961, a group of concerned businessmen joined together with the goal of revitalizing downtown. They hired a New-York based company (Ebasco) to assess the situation and make suggestions.

The report found that downtown suffered from deteriorating buildings, inadequate parking, congestion, and a general unattractiveness. Downtown reportedly suffered from a “general aura of drabness.”

What was Ebasco’s suggested remedy? A $26 million revitalization plan that included the removal of beautification of the riverfront, new buildings, and eight blocks dedicated to pedestrians. However, after two times on the ballot, taxpayers never approved the Ebasco Plan.

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SPOKANE, WASHINGTON. The Parkade Plaza–shopping and parking combined with beautiful architecture–Downtown Spokane, The HEART OF THE INLAND EMPIRE.

While the entirety of the Ebasco Plan was rejected, the call for more parking and revitalization was answered in the form of the Parkade Plaza. Built in 1967 to the tune of $3.5 million, the Parkade replaced 6 crumbling buildings with parking for nearly 1,000 cars and eight shops. The dramatic structure receive an award for “excellence in use of concrete” the following year.

The Parkade proved to be popular and useful for the 1974 World’s Fair and is still in use today. Several of its revolutionary and modern features, such as sloped floors, may now be common in parking garages, but I think it’s safe to say that it’s wild design makes it unique.



A Letter for You

Once more, it has been way too long since I have made a post! I just got back from a vacation to Florida, and have been starting to gather materials for this upcoming summer’s theme. I hope to amass enough to post more regularly this summer!

Since it has also been way too long since I have posted a non-paper artifact on here, check out this 1940s letter from Auburn High School!


This letter and its pins were included in a lot of Auburn High School memorabilia I bought off of eBay a couple of years back. The seller stated that all of the items in the lot came from a scrapbook they picked up at an estate sale.

Some of the other items in the lot suggest that the owner of this scrapbook graduated in 1950, the year the new high school was built. It’s likely that the school she attended this year was neither the second Auburn High School, nor the third from 1950. Built in 1910,  the original high school  was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1949, although it was used on occasion as “the annex”at least through the 1960s.

From 1949 to 1951, Auburn Junior High School served as a combined junior and senior high school. This is likely the school the creator of the scrapbook attended this combined school her senior year.

Attached to the green and white letter–Auburn High School’s present-day colors–are three pins: Auburn Hi-School, Homecoming 1949, and an FHA Pin.


I’m not sure if the pin means to spell “high school” similarly to some versions of “highway” or if it sought to serve as a greeting as well, but this pin seems to belong in the vein of general school spirit.


This homecoming pin certainly would not have looked out of place at the 1949 Homecoming football game! It’s possible this pin could have been sold as a fundraiser for the homecoming dance, or it could have simply been a fun piece of school spirit.


The final pin is a difficult-to-photograph relic from the Auburn High School chapter of the Future Homemakers of America (FHA), a national home economics club founded in 1945. Now known as the Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), it aims to help junior and senior high school girls (and boys since the 1970s) experience personal growth and develop life skills through community service and other projects.

The 1950 Auburn High School that replaced this student’s school was demolished in 2014. Interestingly, a new brick school was built on the same location as the 1910 school.