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Museum of Neon Art to Save Echo Park’s Beloved House of Spirits Sign

The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) has begun removing the House of Spirits signage for safekeeping and repair. The need to work quickly became clear after theft of portions of the House of Spirits sign and escalating threats to the sign, which is attached to a building that was irreparably damaged by fire in December 2018. The sign was donated to the Museum in order to preserve this iconic landmark, however the Museum intends to return the sign to its neighborhood as soon as a suitable new home can be found for it.

For the last 39 years, the Museum has dedicated itself to educating, preserving, and exhibiting neon, kinetic, and electric art and signage. Its collection contains iconic signage from the Chinese Theatre, Brown Derby, and Circus of Books, among others. The Museum hosts neon tours throughout Los Angeles, offers neon bending classes, and protects and re-lights neon signage throughout Los Angeles.

The iconic 1958 Googie-style pole sign and dimensional fascia signage (rooftop sign) that beckoned to thirsty Echo Park residents are one-of-a-kind neon artworks designed by the Mueller Brothers. The idyllic cottage with a pink roof once puffed animated smoke clouds out of its chimney. Though the rooftop sign was placed on site in 1958, MONA has found evidence in the wiring and construction of the sign that the sign may have been repurposed from another business and may date to the 1930’s or 40’s. During this period many sign companies would lease signs to businesses. The Museum also has reason to believe that, originally, the house glowed from the inside with an incandescent bulb.

The sign represents the history of a changing neighborhood and city. The Museum of Neon Art wants to preserve this unique and historically significant sign to share it with future generations and teach about the rich history of Echo Park, its family businesses, and the communities they served by paying tribute to the masterful neon artists and designers who created this playful and ingenious display. The Museum is in the process of collecting stories about the business and the community it served.

Frequently, signs like these are abandoned or destroyed when a building is sold. MONA is committed to safely stewarding this sign into a new era so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. The sign is a complex and fragile work of art that needs special care. The hope is that, through collaboration with local neighborhood groups and businesses, MONA can re-light the sign to its former glory. Individuals who have stories or information about this sign, know a business or organization in Echo Park that they believe would be able to safely display and power the sign, or would like to contribute to the cause through fundraising are asked to reach out to the Museum of Neon Art at info@neonmona.org.

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