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The Bristol Slogan Sign to receive restoration and LED bulbs

March 08, 2019

Courtesy of Bristol Historical Association:

Bristol's historic welcome sign will soon have a restoration and be refitted with anew light source. The landmark has received periodic servicing over its 109 years butin the next month the cities' have scheduled structuralrepairs, painting, and most notably, a lighting update.The sign's incandescent bulbs will be replaced with mod­ern LED bulbs to bring it well into the twenty-first cen­tury. This will be only the fourth major alteration to thesign since it was constructed and placed on top of theInterstate Hardware Building in 1910. In 1915 it wasremoved from the building and redesigned to span State Street, and in 1922 it was rebuilt with the current slogan, Bristol, A Good Place To Live. In the 1970's the sign was in danger of collapsing and at risk of being taken down during Urban Renewal. In 1982 citizens came to its rescue and a campaign, Save our Sign, collected the needed money for a complete resto­ration, completed in 1989. It has been 30 years since the last restoration and it is time!

There have been many comments over the years about its unique history, especially the sign's original slogan, PUSH, THAT'S BRISTOL. For today's residents it does sound like an odd city slogan, but for 1910 it was a trendy PUSH for modernization. A few years earlier Norfolk & Western erected the magnificent Union Railway Station equipped with the most modern technology of the era, and made Bristol the most ad­vanced city in the region. We had a modern trolley line, telephone system, new electric company managed by Doherty & Company, and an electric welcome sign to promote the city to the entire world. Keep in mind, that the sign was placed on the interstate high­way system of the day, the rail line between Washington DC and the deep South.

We do understand that there were dozens of electric signs donated by Doherty & Com­pany to communities where they provided electric service. We don't have an extensive list of these communities but one specific sign was in Warren, Ohio. The sign was placed on top of the City Hall with the slogan, "City of Opportunity". It was magnifi­cent according to the residents, but an electric short in 1916 caught the ornate three­story structure on fire and was destroyed. I'm sure the owners of the Interstate Hard­ware building in Bristol had a sigh of relief with the news since they removed the Bris­tol Sign from their building a few months earlier.

Electric slogan signs were the rage in the 1910's. In 1914 there were 39 electric signs promoting communities, including one placed in Allentown PA which promotion was, "Dwell Here and Prosper''. Toledo, Ohio was promoted as ''You Will Do Better in Toledo", Nashville was "Nashville Offers Opportunity", and Pittsburgh's slogan was, "Pittsburg Promotes Progress". Bristol was in good company in that era. To my knowl­edge, only one other sign of that list still exists and it is located in Canon City, Colo­rado. It is a much smaller sign and promotes the town as "The City Beautiful". It is a painted sign spanning a street with only the town name in lights.