NASHVILLE, TN—The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces the City of Fort Collins is the recipient of an Award of Merit for the preservation and interpretation of the Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen Sign. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. The award ceremony is part of a special banquet, hosted by The History Channel, during AASLH’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday, September 20.
Painted in 1958, the Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen sign is located on the wall of the historic J. L. Hohnstein Block, 220 East Mountain Avenue, in downtown Fort Collins. The passing years caused the sign to significantly fade until it was in danger of being lost. In 2009, the City of Fort Collins, in partnership with the Downtown Development Authority, building owner Ed Stoner, and the Fort Collins Historical Society, received a State Historic Fund grant from History Colorado to conserve the faded sign. Painting conservator Deborah Uhl, Ethernet Reality, completed the work and local preservationist Carol Tunner managed the project.
This project broke new ground in paint restoration and protection. The original plan called for restoring the sign to its 1958 appearance, much as one restores a painting. Local citizens, however, preferred the faded “ghost sign” look for their historic downtown area, and the sign was conserved by reattaching the flaking historic paint and restoring the missing letters. The challenge was in finding a coating to protect the historic paint that would not cause damage to either the sign or the underlying soft brick wall. The criteria were daunting: The protective material needed to be a clear coating, must withstand exterior exposure, must not yellow, must not pick up dirt, and must not damage the underlying paint and brick. Finally, the coating would also need to be reversible, able to be easily removed later, if necessary, while leaving the historic paint intact. After exhaustive testing and research, the completed work is now recognized as the gold standard for similar restoration efforts. The project received much state and national attention, and this past February received a Stephen H. Hart Award from History Colorado.
The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also brings public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena. For more information about the Leadership in History Awards, contact AASLH at 615-320-3203, or go to www.aaslh.org
The City of Fort Collins has also received preservation awards for the restoration of the trolley and trolley system, restoration of the old waterworks building on Overland Trail, and for the Taco Bell at the corner of College and Prospect. For more information about the City’s preservation efforts, visit www.fcgov.com/ghostsigns