White Tower Sign

I made the drive down from Maryland to Midlothian VA today to pick this up.

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This neon sign was previously mounted on Richmond White Tower No. 1, which was located at 223 East Grace Street. It was originally built in 1939, and remodeled in 1960, which is probably when this sign was installed. The building is still there. It’s been de-towered, and painted, but it’s still recognizable.

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Trolley Conversions- Maryland and Virginia

Some recent additions to my collection. These photos were taken in 1965. There used to be quite a few trolley conversions in the mid atlantic (and elsewhere), but they just didn’t hold up as well as factory built diners. By the time they came into service as diners, most had served a full lifetime of service on the roads, so the condition was obviously not as good as a factory built diner. It took work, money and some jerry-rigging to change them over from transportation to food service. But they could be picked up and converted on the cheap, so they were a good way to get into the business. It seems most owners traded up to a proper factory built diner, or to a on-site construction once they had earned enough money to do so, so the trolleys didn’t survive very well.

Maryland
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Maryland
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Virginia
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Virginia
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The Mighty Midget Kitchen

The Mighty Midget in 1980. It was built by a Glendale, California based firm post-war from a section of bomber fuselage. Apparently they built seven of them, and this is the only one to have survived.

From the 1940s through its closing, it cooked standard grill fare- burgers and hot dogs. It did a stint post-move and post-restoration as a Barbecue place, and now is part of a German Doner restaurant.
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And 30 years later. It closed in 1994 and was moved to the current site in 1996. The stone gas station which is used to sit next to is now a pie shop.
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Donut Dinette

Here’s a small southern chain, a few of the buildings are still around and recognizable, though most have by this point been torn down. I haven’t thought about these in two years, but was generously reminded this evening so I thought I’d put up these archival photos, taken by Michael G. Stewart , mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.

For more info on their history and for other locations, check out the Roadsidenut website, the incredible work of Debra Jane Seltzer.

The Falls Church, Virginia Location, operating as George’s Diner / George’s Deli
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And more recently as Victor’s Grill
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The Front Royal, VA location as the Do-Nut Diner
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The Front Royal location c. 2003 as the Fox Diner (since torn down). I submitted photos of this one to Zippy the Pinhead the first time I was there. A few years later I returned and there was a local news story hanging on the wall with a very angry tone to the effect of “what is this strange comic strip and how did they find us- why won’t they leave us alone!” It was all very funny. The owners when it was the fox made it one of the best diners in the region (even if it isn’t a true diner). The owners from before it was torn down gave it all the atmosphere and charm of a McDonalds. They didn’t get what they had and didn’t seem to get the area or their customers.
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And though I don’t have super old photos of this one, here is a shot of the Winchester, VA location, which, when the photo was taken, had the signage from the Donut Castle up, though it had been bought and was operating at the Seoul Garden Cafe. It is now the North Loudoun Diner.
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Patent Art

Archival postcard of a Donut Dinette.
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Little Tavern Design

The first Washington DC Little Tavern, located at 814 E Street, NW, opened its doors in 1928. It appears the site is now the home of a twelve story apartment building and a Bank of Georgetown.

Early Little Taverns seem to have had a design similar to that of 1920s White Castles and White Towers.
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By 1931, the Tudor Cottage Design had been adopted
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In 1937, it was updated with a bit more of a moderne syle
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Typical Plans and detail
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A design from 1949
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And a later, simplified design. What I’ve found on this one points to a date of construction in 1974
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This one was found in Silver Spring, Maryland until relatively recently. When it was torn down, it had been painted yellow and was operating as a Chinese restaurant.

Big Guitar- Bristol, VA/TN

Bristol, the birthplace of country music, is home to great architecture, neon, and at least two giant guitars.

The Grand Guitar, an enormous Martin
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The fret markers are windows, as is the sound hole. It looks like it could stand to be re-strung.

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And in town, is another large guitar, set in the ground, as a chamber of commerce / welcome sign.

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Rib & Sirloin Restaurant / Sandwich Shoppe – Pulaski, VA

Driving down the highway outside of Pulaski, VA, we spotted the big neon for this place poking through the trees. I couldn’t get the camera out fast enough to snap it, so we took the exit and drove around a bit, until we found it. The motel is still there, though it’s closed. The restaurant isn’t visible from the road, and it’s on private property, so please don’t go searching for it

The motel was once the Days Inn. The last review of it is dated September, 2008, so it closed fairly recently. The restaurant, however, has been closed and abandoned for a bit longer. It is currently condemned. Going by a class of 1963 35th reunion banner still hanging in the restaurant, it’s safe to say that the place closed in 1998 or so.

It’s a great ’60s colonial Howard Johnson’s type place, with avocado green stools and a great rooftop neon.
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Overgrown parking lot
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Sandwich Shoppe
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Blue Paint
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Red paint
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Shots of the interior. Sorry about the glare, they’re through the windows.

Counter
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Left Side Dining Room.
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Inside dining room. The “Forever Young” DHS class of 1963 35th Reunion. Possibly Dublin High School?
Candles and coffee mugs still on the tables. Ceiling is caving in.
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Abandoned Road
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