Spotlight on early quirky architecture


Use of the automobile increased by the middle class in the 1920s and that decade saw some the first oddly shaped roadside stores to attract buyers’ attention. The tradition continued after World War II when quirky architecture increased along major highways as the population became more mobile. An interesting store would attract more attention and so, interesting things started popping up all over the country. The original Brown Derby on Wiltshire Boulevard in Los Angeles opened in 1926. It became of the flagship of a chain of restaurants that continue in operation to this day, but this shop was replaced in 1980 by a shopping mall.

Originally built in 1947 as a shoe repair shop in Bakersfield, California, it saw a change in use several times and once again has been a shoe repair shop in 2003.

Doc Manning opened his Big Red Piano in 1930 on Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles. It stayed open for business into the 1970s but ended up being demolished because of collapse.

Although California had a preponderance of interesting looking shops, others throughout the nation also were built.

Three elephants were built along the Jersey Shore by a real estate promoter. Margate’s Lucy is the only one that has survived.

New Bedford, Pennsylvania was the location of the Coffee Pot

which was moved and renovated and now greets people at the local fairgrounds.

I remember driving up Route 1 north of downtown Boston about 20 years ago and marveling at all the “come on” figures and quirky architecture at that time…..and I bet you know a few in your area also.

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