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Flame Signs

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The photos on this page were moved here from my Signs section to accompany an article I've just started working on for the Society for Commercial Archeology's Journal magazine. The issue will be out in the Fall of 2020. The signs below are organized alphabetically by state.

Bonfire Club
Gordon, AL
Frick's Butane
Texarkana, AR
The Bonfire Club has been here since at least 1950. There is a modern neon sign on the building but this old sign remained by the road when this photo was taken in 2010. I believe the sign has been refurbished or replaced and moved further back from the highway. [map]

Frick's Butane was established in 1935. The company moved to its current location in 1956. This sign appears to be from the 1960s. [map]

The Flame
San Diego, CA
2014 and 2016: 2020:
The Flame opened around 1954. There was a different sign with a larger flame there originally. The Garden of Allah, an Egyptian themed restaurant, operated on this site in from 1946-1954 when it was destroyed by a fire. "The Flame" was a reference to that fire. The building's facade was remodeled in 1955 to its current look. This sign was also installed then. In 1984, it became a lesbian bar. I believe this bar closed in 2013. In 2017, the sign was removed while the building was remodeled to add apartments above the bar. The sign was reinstalled around 2020. For more, see this website. [map]

Torch Room Lounge
Norwalk, CA
Blue Flame
Pico Rivera, CA
Wimpee Fuel Oil [gone?]
Jacksonville, FL
The Torch Room Lounge sign might be from the 1950s or 1960s. [map]

This SoCalGas Blue Flame sign was originally erected in 1960 on top of the 13-story tall Southern Counties Gas Company building in downtown Los Angeles. At the same time, a giant neon flame was installed on the side of the building between the third and fifth floors. The 46-foot-tall, steel and acrylic rooftop flame was internally lit with neon. It was built by the Triple A Neon Co. In 1970, Southern Counties Gas merged with Southern California Gas, becoming SoCalGas. During the 1970s energy crisis, the flame sign was turned off. In 1986, it was restored and relit. Five years later, SoCalGas’ headquarters moved and the sign was put in storage.

In 2012, the flame sign was installed at the SoCalGas training facility in Pico Rivera. Since the height of the sign violates the city sign code, a permit was obtained by declaring it an icon for which there is no height limit. It is set back from the street, at ground level, with an underground steel support structure. Before the installation, the T-Graphics Sign Co. replicated the faded acrylic faces and replaced the internal neon with LED bulbs. The sign is lit in the same four-phase, inside-to-outside, sequence as it was originally. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, 3, and 4. [map]

This Wimpee Fuel Oil sign is probably from the 1950s. In 2016, the sign was damaged in a hurricane and removed. It's not known if the sign will be repaired. It was still on-site and covered with a tarp in 2019. [map]

Torch Lounge
Boise, ID
The Torch Lounge has been here since at least 1946. The business is now a strip club. The sign has apparently been reworked many times. These photos are from 2014. The sign panel is now painted red. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Grasso Plaza
St. Louis, MO
Dowdle Gas
De Kalb, MS
The bottom part of the Grasso Plaza sign has been updated. The flame part of the sign is probably from the 1950s or so. For more, see this website. [map]

The Dowdle Gas was founded in 1956 in Columbus, MS. Over the years, more offices opened in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida. This sign was probably built in the 1960s. There are other signs like this in Louisville, MS, Meridian, MS, York, AL, and probably a few others elsewhere. There were other signs in Columbus, MS; Tupelo, MS; Russellville, AL; Carbon Hill, AL; Philadelphia, MS; and probably elsewhere which are gone now. There's an adapted sign in Summerdale, AL. I don't believe any of these signs ever had neon. The Dowdle Gas Company was bought by Inergy in 2005 but the local offices continued to operate with the Dowdle name. Around 2014, these locations were sold to Suburban Propane. Most or all of these signs have been replaced with plastic box signs for Suburban Propane. The only surviving signs appear to be at vacant offices. [map]

Mr. Barbecue
Winston-Salem, NC
Mr. Barbecue opened here in 1964. In the 1970s, the neon flame replaced a real gas-lit flame. For more, see this website. [map]

Rochester Fire Equipment Co.
Rochester, NY
Fireside Inn
Reno, NV
The The Rochester Safety Equipment Company opened in 1943. The sign is most likely from 1956 when the business name was changed to the . It may have been built by Electro-Ad. The sign's flames originally flashed on and off. However, that feature had to be stopped many years ago to comply with the city's sign code. This photo is from 2010. Around 2013, the sign was taken down and repainted by Nu-Lite Neon Sales & Services. The neon tubing was also replaced by E-Lite Neon Signs. The sign is still lit at night. There is also a neon "skeleton sign" in the window which reads "Fire Extinguishers." For more, see this website. [map]

The Fireside Inn was built in 1967 and this sign is from then. The flame has not been lit since at least 2010. It was probably never animated. For more, see this website. [map]

Blue Flame Restaurant
Clairton, PA
The Blue Flame Restaurant signs are probably from the 1950s or 1960s. [map]

Lone Star
Gas Company
Grand Prairie, TX
Lone Star Gas Co.
Hillsboro, TX
Beef House
Garland, TX
The Lone Star Gas Company in Grand Prairie opened here in 1962 and this flame-shaped sign was installed on the roof then. There were originally freestanding letters with the company's name along the building's roofline. The company moved in 2000 and left the sign behind. The sign was restored and declared a city landmark. The curved, three-sided flame is three feet tall. It originally revolved on its eight-foot-tall base. It may have also flashed or been lit in sequence. The sign is stationary now but is lit at night. [map]

This very similar, neon flame sign in Hillsboro also advertised for the Lone Star Gas Co.. These signs were mass-produced for the company's local offices. [map]

The Beef House restaurant sign has been here since around 1973. I believe this sign was built for the Steak House in Dallas, TX. The flame part of the sign originally revolved. [map]

El Paso
Natural Gas Company
El Paso, TX
Clem Mikeska's Bar-B-Q
Temple, TX
Cascade Natural Gas
Longview, WA (now Kelso, WA)
The El Paso Natural Gas Company "weather beacon" flame sign is identical to the one in Milwaukee, WI. They were built by the Federal Sign and Signal Company. The 21-foot-tall, plexiglass and steel signs were internally lit with 1,800 feet of neon in the same weather-forecasting color pattern. The El Paso sign was installed on top of the company's headquarters in 1955. The 18-story-tall building has been commonly referred to as the Blue Flame Building since then. Because El Paso's climate is fairly unvarying, the sign was most commonly lit in blue. When the sign was first installed, local advertising featured this poem: "When the flame is BLUE, no change is due. When the flame is RED, warmer weather's ahead. When the flame is GOLD, cooler weather foretold. A FLICKERING FLAME means probable rain."

In 1996, the company moved to Houston and the flame was turned off. From 2017-2020, the building was converted into low-income housing known as the Blue Flame Apartments. There are plans to relight the flame in 2020. It is now internally lit with LED tubing. For more, see this website. [map]

There are still a few other still-operating "weather beacon" signs in the country including the Weather Ball in Flint, MI.

Clem Mikeska's Bar-B-Q was established in 1965 in Temple. The restaurant moved to this location in 2008. This sign might be the original or a replica of it. There are two other locations now in Belton and Cameron, TX. [map]

The Cascade Natural Gas sign was installed at the Longview office in the late 1950s. Typical of the time period, it is a mixed media sign lit with neon and fluorescent tubing behind acrylic panels. It is about five feet in diameter and is believed to be a one-off sign. In 2019, the Longview office closed and the sign was removed. In 2020, it was restored and installed on a pole at the Kelso office.

Blue Flame
Gas Service [gone]
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Flames Eatery & Bar
San Jose, CA
I can't tell if the Blue Flame Gas Service sign was modern or vintage. This photo is from 2011. By 2018, the sign was gone.

The Flames Eatery & Bar opened around 2007. The modern sign was built by the Arrow Sign Co. I believe it was installed after 2009. 1 and 2. [map]

More Flame Signs:
Torch Cafe (Tuskegee, AL)
Clark Gas Co. (Muscle Shoals, AL)
Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company Building (Pine Bluff, AR)
Screaming Banshee Pizza (Bisbee, AZ)
Rice Bowl Restaurant (Bakersfield, CA)
Crestview Lanes: 1, 2 3 (Carmichael, CA)
Sequoia Gas Co. (Fortuna, CA)
Magic Lamp Inn (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
Condes' Restaurant (Universal City, CA)
Firelite Shopping Center (Orange, CT)
Jimbo's Pit BBQ (Tampa, FL)
Atlanta Gas & Light Co. (Macon, GA)
BAC Cinema (Belleville, IL) [vintage; gone]
Klemm's Candlelite Cafe [map]
Decock Bottled Gas (Escanaba, MI) [gone]
Axel's Bonfire (St. Paul, MN) [gone]
St. Clair Broiler (St. Paul, MN) [gone]
Flame Theatre (Wells, MN)
Triangle Motor Inn (Jacksonville, NC)
The Flame (Las Vegas, NV)
Cotton-Eyed Joe's Barbeque (Claremore, OK)
Richardson Fuel Company (Nowata, OK) [gone]
Automatic Heat: 1, 2, 3 [gone]
gas company (Portland, OR) [vintage; gone]
Equitable Gas Co. (Pittsburgh, PA) [vintage; gone]
Tiki Lounge (Pittsburgh, PA)
Sigler Fire Equipment Co. (Sioux Falls, SD)
Lone Star Gas (Dallas, TX) [gone]
Charcoaler Drive-in (El Paso, TX)
Lone Star Gas Company (Fort Worth, TX)
The Corral (Victoria, TX)
Lee's Mongolian Bar-B-Q (Ogden, UT)
Red Carpet Inn (Harrisonburg, VA)
Olympic Inn (Aberdeen, WA) [gone]
Flame Ballroom: 1, 2 (Seattle, WA)
Frontier Room (Seattle, WA) [gone]
Washington Energy (Seattle, WA)
Wisconsin Gas Building (Milwaukee, WI)
Steak Pit (Washburn, WI)
flame (Madeira, Portugal)

If you know of any other flame signs, I'd love to hear from you.

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