UPDATE: Company shows vision for vintage Firestone Tire signs in - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Company shows vision for vintage Firestone Tire signs in jeopardy

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The company in charge of refurbishing two of the oldest store signs in the city of Charleston said it is looking forward to the project.

Freeman Smith, of Architectural Graphics Incorporated, said his company has worked with other Firestone Tire stores to restore vintage signs.

The most recent project was completed in Pennsylvania.

Smith said the city has been very cooperative throughout the process. There is an old city ordinance preventing Firestone from taking down the signs to restore them.  Under the ordinance, once the signs are taken down, they can't be put back up.  However, the city said it will likely make an exception for the signs through the variance process.

Jerry Waters, a local historian, has also been working with the city and Firestone to get the issue resolved. He said the ordinance was originally created to get rid of gaudy signs from the 1930's and so on. The two signs hang out from the Firestone building along Washington Street East and Dickinson Street.

The city will meet at the end of the month to approve Firestone's request. The city has made exceptions for other old store signs in the past, including the Quarrier Diner sign.

The Firestone signs date back to the 1930s. The downtown Firestone location is the second oldest Firestone in the country. It was hand-picked by Harvey Firestone, the founder of Firestone Tire.

Smith said the refurbished signs will have exposed neon, similar to how they looked when originally created.


Two of the oldest store signs in the city of Charleston are in jeopardy of coming down, and a city ordinance is to blame.

The Firestone Tire store in downtown Charleston has a very rich history.  Jerry Waters is a local history buff who has studied the store.

He said the founder of Firestone Tire, Harvey Firestone, hand-picked the Charleston location.

"In 1930, he built the store behind us here on Washington and Dickinson Street," Waters said.

He said these vintage store signs hanging on the outside of the store are now impossible to come by these days.

"We don't have any signs left in the city of Charleston and at one time, all cities had magnificent signs," he said.

It turns out, an old city ordinance effectively got rid of these signs. Once a store took the signs down, the ordinance prevented the owners from putting them back up.

"These signs were grand-fathered in," he said. "What that meant was they could hang there as long as they were never removed."

Now Firestone wants to refurbish the signs, but the store has to get approval from the city to do that, so they can put the signs back up after they're refurbished.

Waters said the store sits on the fringe of the historic downtown district.

"These are the last of the old-fashioned vintage signs left in this area," Waters said.

The city said it might make an exception for the signs, like it did when Quarrier Diner recently refurbished its store sign.

A final decision on the matter will happen later this month.

Waters also has a website with more information about the history of the Firestone Tire store, in addition to a huge collection of vintage photos from across the state. Click here to learn more.

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