A Neon Update!

For many decades a neon beckoned theatergoers. It eventually fell into disrepair, and nobody can recall the last time it was lighted.


A goal of the Strong City Preservation Alliance, which is spearheading the restoration of the 1900 theater, is to have the sign restored so it may once again beckon people inside the theater for events.

With no color images of the sign when it was new, some guesswork was needed: what colors should the sign be?

From scant remaining evidence it seems that the sign was mostly black, with yellow flourishes at the top and bottom. Nobody knew what color the neon was but red was decided upon.

And this is how things have stood for about a year.

Today however, Justin invited me to lunch with some news. He had met with Rick from Coffelt Signs in Emporia, and Rick had made some discoveries.

My ears perked way up.


Rick has ascertained, upon the barest of evidence, that the sign was originally quite a bit more…colorful than any of us realized.

Wanna see?

Scroll way down…

























The flourishes at the top and bottom were four colors originally! And there was a C-shaped extra-extra-flourish!

Justin had the idea of making the C-shaped line on the right done in yellow neon.  Brilliant!

The red letters would also be neon. When lighted at night, the white background would turn red, too.

So, red neon letters with a dramatic vertical yellow neon “dash” running up/down one side!

Justin and I love love love this! What do you think?




  1. Laci J on April 20, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    That is cool! How close are you to meeting the goal of this neon sign?

  2. Cindi M on April 20, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    That’s beautiful and quite sophisticated!

  3. Annette on April 20, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    Absolutely love love love it!

  4. Sandra Lee on April 20, 2018 at 9:32 pm


  5. Barb Sanford on April 20, 2018 at 10:01 pm

    Fabulous! Love the contrast between the flashy sign and the more solemn geometric design of the building itself.

  6. Gia on April 20, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    Love it!

  7. Dan Goodall-Williams on April 21, 2018 at 7:02 am

    Awesome! Saving more history!

  8. Paula Haas on April 22, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    I love this sign! Agree that the word THEATRE should be included since it was on the sign originally. This is exciting!

    • Ross on April 22, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      Hi, Paula,

      We are leaning to NOT having THEATER at the bottom.

      One, it is too small to read when driving by.

      Two, the plans are for the restored building to be a performing arts center rather than a theater.

      • Rachel Creager Ireland on April 24, 2018 at 12:09 pm

        So the spacing of UPTOWN would be shifted to make it fit the sign without THEATER?
        I kind of like the way the sign looks in the photo. THEATER is kind of a base the vertical word sits upon . . . The speed limit there is only 30 mph, I think when it was up I could read it fine. But I wouldn’t fight for that . . .

        But wow! Those colors. I love them. So much prettier than just red and black. I like the neon flourish idea, too.

        Thanks, Ross, and everyone else, for all the work you’re doing on this.

  9. Nadja on September 8, 2018 at 6:04 am

    It’s glorious, even as a drawing! You could sell that as a poster.
    Actually, if you create a shop on society6 (or a similar website), I’d totally buy a mug! 🙂

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