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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Vintage Neon Signs of Marysville & Yuba City

(and the rest of Yuba County & Sutter County)

Marysville and Yuba City are these days essentially one city, but they are separated by the Feather River, and when drawing up counties for California, the Feather River was made the border between Sutter and Yuba Counties. And just to make it a little confusing, Marysville, bordered on the south by the Yuba River, is the seat of Yuba County, while Yuba City is the seat of Sutter County. In the 2000 census, Sutter County was home to 78,930 people, while Yuba County had a population of 60,219. Given that the sparse population of these two counties is mostly centered in this urban area right on the border, the area is often referred to as Yuba Sutter, and they have one combined county fair called the Yuba Sutter Fair.

Both cities are on the historic path of U.S. Route 99E. U.S. 99W went from Sacramento to Davis, then Woodland, and from there generally followed the route of current Interstate 5. U.S. 99E went from Sacramento to Roseville, then followed the path of current CA-65 through Lincoln and Wheatland on its way to Marysville. It crossed over to Yuba City--I'm not sure if that would be on current CA-20, or farther south on Bridge St. Leaving Yuba City, it headed north on current CA-99 to meet up with U.S. 99W in Red Bluff. The current CA-99 stretch from the junction with I-5 near the Sacramento Airport to Yuba City is not the historic route of the federal Highway 99.

A 1950s postcard that I bought at Red Tire Antiques in Yuba City shows the streets of downtown Marysville lined with dozens of neon signs. Not one in the picture remains today, and many of the buildings are gone too. When I visited Marysville and Yuba City for the first time in 2000, the Sutter Theatre in Yuba City was still open, as was the Marysville Drive-In (actually across the Yuba River from Marysville in Linda or Olivehurst). The State Theatre had just closed a year earlier. Now the Sutter is in the process of being converted to a performing arts center, the drive-in is just a rubble and weed-strewn parking lot, and State Theatre has now been closed for a full decade.

But here are the signs I managed to get to with a camera before they were destroyed. If you know of any that I have missed, please drop me a line (check my profile for my e-mail).

Marysville, Yuba County

20090801 Plaza
232 1st St.
Plaza

This sign was my most recent discovery in the area. The address is now the site of the Chinese Museum of Northern California, opened the first Saturday of each month.

20060702 Quick's Glass Service
520 3rd St.
Quick's Glass Service

I'd guess that this mixed plastic and neon sign dates from the 1960s.

20080906 Cortez Room
315 5th St
Cortez Room
20051219 Cortez Room

20051219 Cottons Cowboy Corral
320 5th St
Cotton's Cowboy Corral

20051219 Matthews Music
425 5th St.
Matthews Music

I'm guessing that this isn't vintage, but it has the right look, and it could be vintage, so for now I'll keep it in this list.

20090613 Bossen Bros. Laundry
221 B St.
Bossen Laundry

In the 1947 city directory, this business is advertised as the "Wife Saving Station."

20090801 Travelers Hotel
229-231 C St.
Travelers Hotel

The hotel was built in 1912. The neon must have come later, since neon tubes were not used for commercial signage until the 1920s.

20001104 Tower Theater
103 D Street
Tower Theatre

I believe this theater was built as the Liberty Theatre, and then remodeled to become the Tower Theatre. The Liberty, which opened on January 11, 1927, was built on the site of the National Theatre, which burned down on January 28, 1926. (A new National Theatre was built on E Street, which then was later remodeled to become the State Theatre, which still stands, but without its original neon marquee.) The Tower Theatre opened at the same site as the Liberty on January 17, 1941, and like the Liberty, its advertising logo was "The Family Theater."

The shot above is how I first saw it in 2000. The shot below is how it appears now--the theater space has been converted to offices, but the marquee remains, as well as the terrazzo floor. Here's a lovely image of the place in full swing back in the day.
20080906 The Former Tower Theatre

20080810 Mogheli's Furniture
530 E St.
Mogheli's Furniture

I'm not sure about this sign. The design certainly looks vintage, but I don't remember seeing it in my early visits to Marysville. But it may have just been moved--I found a listing for Mogheli's at 430 D. St.

20080810 Bob's Lock & Key Shop
509 G St
Bob's Lock & Key
20051219 Bob's Lock & Key Shop

20090704 The Walnut Tree
North of Marysville on CA-70 at Ramirez Rd.
The Walnut Tree


Yuba City, Sutter County

20080906 Sutter Orchard Supply
573 Bridge St.
Sutter Orchard Supply

20080906 Westbridge Village
Bridge St.
Westbridge Village

20001104 Hal's Grubstake
440 Colusa Ave
2000 Hal's Grubstake

It was in business when I first visited the area, and I ate one of their Dude Burgers. Now one sign is gone entirely, and the other has been drastically modified and has no neon.
20001104 Hal's Grubstake

20080906 Liquor & Deli
724 Colusa Ave
EZ Bentprob Liquor & Deli

With a name like that, it has to be good.

20080810 Sutter
754 Plumas St
Sutter Theatre

Below is all the neon that was working on it in 2005 when it was still operating as Sutter Cinema 3.
20051219 Sutter Cinema 3

20080810 Spur The
758 Plumas St
The Spur

Below is all that was lit when I checked it in 2005. Since then I have never seen any part of it lit.
20051219 The Spur

20080810 Town Pump
760 Plumas St
Town Pump

In the 1970 Yellow Pages they advertise, "Cook Your Own Steak to Your Liking." Man, I can do that at home.
20090814 Town Pump

Linda, Yuba County

20090801 Anton's Apartment Motel
Riverside Dr.
Anton's Apartment Motel

This sign was quite a discovery for me. It certainly didn't seem like an area that would have an old neon sign, and I'm not even sure why I was on that road, but I happened onto this rusting beauty in a fenced-off vacant lot


Live Oak, Sutter County

20010414 Pasquini's
6241 Live Oak Blvd.
Pasquini's

20080818 Liquors
Liquor Store

I'll have to get the name and address (and hopefully a better picture) next time I'm in Live Oak.

4 comments:

Jeremy Brooks said...

Great summary of these great signs! The Spur was lit up last time I was up there, but I have never seen the Cowboy Corral lit.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremybrooks/2647848489/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremybrooks/2680225770/

Jeremy Brooks said...

Also, nice shot of Hal's Grubsteak. My wife grew up in Marysville, and it was apparently pretty popular. I never did get to eat there, let alone shoot the sign.

Zaccaglin said...

Such a cool blog of signs in our area! I am an employee at Sutter Orchard Supply and we are currently in the process of having our Neon Sign re painted, fabricated ans re tubed with new neon. I'll have to pass you an email with the completed photos when its done, we had the choice of Neon or LED in the neon glass. We decided to keep it traditional with Neon. The Sutter Theater currently had all there neon redone with the LED option, and the Yuba City Water tower at Plumas and Bridge Streets will be redone with the LED option as well. The work has and will be done for all by a local Yuba City Sign company.

Robert F. Crocker said...

You have raised an important issue..Thanks for sharing..I would like to read more current affairs from this blog..keep posting.. beer tap handles

About Me

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I love to learn about, visit, photograph, research, and write about everything that is interesting, unique, and historical about Northern California, and wherever else I should be fortunate enough to find myself.  I've spent many years scouring the roadside in my little car for interesting subjects and walking down hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada and along the coast to get to know the wonder that is Northern California.  I share most of this via photos on Flickr, and as much as time permits me to on my blog, the NorCal Explorer.  Fine art prints of my photos are for sale on Imagekind.