Category Archives: Restoration of Historic Signs

Heritage Award!

The Tucson - Pima County Historical Commission has awarded Sign Magic with this certificate.

The Tucson – Pima County Historical Commission has awarded Sparkle Cleaners with this certificate.

Sparkle Cleaners was recently honored with the Heritage Award for their part in restoring one of Tucson’s historic signs. Sign Magic partnered with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and Sparkle Cleaners to help bring some of Tucson’s past back to life. Drachman became a hot spot for restored historic signs back in March of 2012 when Pima Community College and the Historic Preservation Foundation joined forces to restore and reinstall a few of Tucson’s coolest old signs at Pima’s downtown campus. Being that Sparkle Cleaners has been here in Tucson for decades and is located on the Northwest corner of Drachman and Stone, right across the street from Pima’s downtown campus, it was only natural that their historic sign be included in this restoration project! The sign was originally erected back in 1955 when the Well and Wash first opened. This became a Sparkle Cleaners in 1961 and since then, Sparkle Cleaners have opened many other Tucson locations.

Why restore these old signs? Well, signs aren’t made how they used to be! In the old days, many of these signs were hand painted and they all used really cool neon lighting. Neon has to be hand blown and shaped to form certain letters or other formations, and this is no easy task. The difficulty in making and repairing these lights has made many people turn to more cost-effective solutions such as LED lighting. If you drive up Drachman and look at these signs you will see how compared to a lot of the signage used today, they are works of art.

The sign definitely needed a little TLC when it was first brought into our shop to begin restoration. There were places on the metal cabinet frame of the sign that were rusting and falling apart so this was the first problem to take care of. It received multiple layers of fresh paint, all new neon lighting, and new bulbs on the other lit parts of the sign because most of the lighting had long been out of use. Channel 4 News featured the sign and its story on the evening’s news, and The Arizona Daily Star had a photo and story written in the paper shortly after the sign went back up! Heath Bolin, president of Sparkle Cleaners, was awarded with this certificate and we here at Sign Magic are very proud to be a part of restoring Tucson’s past.

The sign when it was originally erected back in 1955

 1955, when the sign was originally erected.

The sign in more recent years, before restoration.

The sign in more recent years, before restoration.

This is the sign after the restoration process had been completed and it was reinstalled.

After restoration and re-installation.

A glimpse of how the sign looks at night, after restoration.

A glimpse of how the sign looks at night, after restoration.


Arizona Oncology Cancer Centers

Sign Magic just  installed another new sign! The sign, made for Arizona Oncology Cancer Centers, is located at 1845 W. Orange Grove. The pan channel letters are mounted on raceways and are lit with LED allumination. The Arizona logo was digitally printed on vinyl, then applied to lazer routed plexi.

Pan Channel lettering lit with LEDs

Historic Sign Restoration – Sparkle Cleaners

Sign Magic is participating in the restoration of one of Tucson’s historic signs. This sign is located at 16 W. Drachman at Sparkle Cleaners. It was erected in 1955, when the original dry cleaning service, The Well and Wash, first opened. Sparkle Cleaners took over in 1967, have been operating in this location & adding additional locations across the Tucson area ever since.  Drachman became a hot spot for historic signs in March 2012 when 4 of Tucson’s older signs were relocated and installed after being completely restored. The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and Pima Community College partnered to restore and install classic neon signs from Tucson’s past along the north edge of PCC’s Downtown Campus. The Sparkle Cleaners sign will be a great addition to this already amazing project and is still standing in its original location at the corner of Drachman and Stone, right across the street from PCC’s down town campus. Some pictures of The Wash and Well in 1955 were discovered by some great friends at the city’s Developmental Services office and are a pretty cool blast from the past! These pictures (displayed below) will aid us in the restoration of this sign. Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project, which we hope to have completed and reinstalled sometime near the end of this summer.

The sign when the original dry cleaners opened in 1955


This is what the sign has looked like in recent years, before any of the restoration work had begun.