The Casa Grande Neon Sign Park is now open in Casa Grande, Arizona, about an hour south of Phoenix.
A local economic development organization, Casa Grande Main Street, spearheaded the creation of the park. Two years ago, a funding contest for grant money was held by the American Express Partners in Preservation program, a partnership of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The American Express Foundation. Casa Grande Main Street took second place among 25 cities nationwide and received a grant of $144,000 in January 2018. The funding allowed for the salvage and restoration of 14 vintage and neon signs. The park was set up on donated land in Casa Grande’s historic downtown, and the grant money also paid for some landscaping and signage. The land was donated by the Kramer Family of Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.
Although Route 66 ran across the northern part of Arizona, neon played a big role in Casa Grande’s business history, as it did all over the U.S. The collection of signs in the park includes one for Arizona Edison, the predecessor to the Arizona Public Service Company, which dates back to 1950; one for the Goddard Shoe Store, which operated in Casa Grande from 1945 to 1950; and the Horse Shoe Lodge, which advertised its clean, modern, air-cooled units, panel-ray vented heat and carports.” It was reportedly the first motel in Casa Grande that featured air conditioning.
“It’s hard to put into words what I believe this park will mean to the community,” says Rina Rien, director of Casa Grande Main Street. “I am optimistic and encouraged by the buzz being created surrounding the park and how we are already translating it into a strategic vision for revitalizing our downtown.”