Historic Bank Sign That Served as Weather Beacon Saved From Scrapyard

Categories: Architecture

Photo courtesy Cullen Urick
Giles atop the tower. Downtown St. Louis can be seee in the background.

Larry Giles grew up just south of the Wellston Loop. He remembers when the commercial district was still bustling, and he never forgot the distinctive rotating sign that graced the State Bank's roof. So last year when he heard that the bank faced demolition, Giles resolved to save a childhood memory. After successfully raising the $19,000 to rent the crane and flatbed trucks needed to dismantle and remove the sign, Giles set to work.

On the ground, the letters of the sign show the remnants of their neon lights.

"Although a bit of a challenge, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to rescue this great survivor," says Giles. On May 16, a bright Friday morning, steel workers began removing the bolts holding the major components of the sign together. The first part of the structure to come down was the weather ball, which once broadcast a simple weather forecast to commuters by changing from red to blue or white. Next came the formidable task of dismantling the giant revolving sign, still secured in place, and placing it on a flatbed truck (appropriately labeled "Wide Load"). Perhaps most people would be content at that point, but Giles pressed on and loaded the entire tower that held the sign onto a second flatbed truck.

The tower from the State Bank resting safely on its side at the Foundation.
Once safely transported to the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation in Sauget, the beauty and craftsmanship of the sign became apparent. Giles plans on renovating the sign to its former glory and -- eventually -- putting it on display for a new generation to appreciate.

Chris Naffziger writes about architecture at St. Louis Patina. Contact him via e-mail at

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