Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Made in Oregon Sign RIP

I love this sign. Its a landmark in Portland Oregon and literally a visual reminder of what I do for a living.

The White Stag sign (its real name) was originally built in 1941 as an ad for a sugar company, it read "White Stag Sugar". In 1959 the tradition began of lighting the nose on the stag with a red bulb for the holiday season. In 1978 the sign was designated a City of Portland historical landmark. Its changed messages a number of times over the years as the building has changed hands. Officially it became the sign I know and love in 1997 when the letters were changed to "Made in Oregon" (and the bottom little letters were changed to "Old Town" - they used to read "Sportswear"). When the Naito family sold this building in 2004 the cost of upkeep and maintenance on the sign became an issue. Actually, the monthly electrical bill and upkeep have been a problem for decades, but the last few years have seen a push to reconcile this issue.

Working down at the Portland Saturday Market I have watched the transformation of this building. Made in Oregon (the store) moved out and Venerable Properties moved in with demolition crews. They renovated and developed the White Stag Block... in 2008 the University of Oregon took a lease on the building and I was quick to note they specifically leased the sign as part of the deal. A request was put into the city to change the sign to "University of Oregon" - personally I had my own theory that they simply wanted it to read "Go Ducks!" or "O". Ug. Fortunately these plans were turned down and by 2009 the University had ceased leasing the sign. Wikipedia offers the whole story with all the details, but basically the short end of the story is that now the sign will read "Portland Oregon" and the city will be paying $2000 a month (note: not taxpayers money, its all $ generated from a city parking facility) to the previous owners of the sign to continue the monthly upkeep and maintenance. The property owner (Venerable) put up the $200,000 to have the letters changed. There is going to be a grand re-lighting the day after Thanksgiving.

Today when I drove across the Burnside Bridge I happened to notice the transformation of the sign. I didn't know that the change was happening right now, so this took me by surprise. Literally I exclaimed "Oh Snap!" and lunged for my camera. Um, I mean I stayed focused on driving while quickly snapping a few pictures.
This is what I saw. *gasp* I knew it was going to change eventually. I just didn't know it was changing today!

No comments: