Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and Clabber Girl Corp., both located in Terre Haute, Indiana, have teamed up to restore a local landmark: a billboard that promotes Terre Haute as the home of world-famous Clabber Girl Baking Powder.
The 44-foot-long billboard along U.S. 40—the Old National Road—on the eastern edge of Terre Haute has welcomed visitors to the city for more than 80 years. It is believed to be the oldest billboard in Indiana and, with its large clock, one of the first electric billboards in the country.
Rose-Hulman took over ownership of the sign in the fall of 2017 as part of the institute’s purchase of more than 1,100 acres of property from the Hulman family, founders of Clabber Girl, including the southwest corner of U.S. 40 and Hunt Road, where the billboard sits.
The restoration project is underway with trimming the trees whose overgrowth has started to partially obscure the billboard. Workers will also bolster the sign’s wooden frame, repair and replace mechanics in the working clock at the top of the sign and give the Clabber Girl message a complete facelift.
For the latter, local artist Becky Hochhalter, owner of Terre Haute’s Studio 32 Art and Photo, has been brought in. She will repaint the sign with the exact same colors and images—the Clabber Girl Baking Powder logo, the container and the words across the top, “Five Minutes to Terre Haute ... The Home of Clabber Girl Baking Powder.”
“I’m looking forward to restoring this iconic sign to its past glory so that it can greet visitors to Terre Haute, my hometown, for many years into the future,” says Hochhalter, a lifelong artist who has worked in art-related fields, including advertising and computer graphics. She works in traditional oil and acrylic painting, illustrations, drawings and sculptures, and her artwork has been displayed in Chicago and New York City. Her current projects include a 60-foot mural at a mall and a bronze sculpture, both in Terre Haute.
With headquarters in downtown Terre Haute, the Clabber Girl Corporation is a private holding company that has produced baking powder since 1899. Then-owner Anton “Tony” Hulman Jr. developed a national sales campaign, including roadside billboards, during the 1930s in hopes of making the baking powder brand a household name. You could say he succeeded: Try to get through the holiday season without seeing that iconic logo at least once.