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‘Pretty cool’: Relic Boise neon signs could pop up as public art in Downtown Boise project


A series of classic Boise neon signs could appear in Downtown Boise if a project envisioned by the Capital City Development Corp. moves forward.

Vangie Osborn has collected decommissioned signs from around Boise for more than 20 years and has long hoped to find a permanent, public place to display them. Several previous attempts haven’t made it across the finish line, but the CCDC’s effort could bring them to a public spot along Grove St. in Downtown Boise.

Osborn’s collection includes the old Cub Tavern sign which once hung on the building now known as Bar Gernika, the old Fiesta Ballroom sign that hung at Sixth St. and Idaho St. where Java now sits, and the old Idaho Camera sign that hung both on Orchard St. and later in Boise’s Vista Village.

This block in Downtown Boise, ID could host the museum. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

CCDC envisions hanging the signs in a sort of outdoor “historic neon sign museum” next to a large surface parking lot owned by Idaho Power on Grove St. between 12th St. and 13th St.

“It would add some street activation in an otherwise quiet section of Grove St. and then the neon signs wouldn’t compete with other neighboring businesses’ signage, so we thought that would be a good location,” CCDC project manager Amy Fimbel said. “The signs would be arrayed as an open-air neon sign museum. It’s pretty cool, I got a chance to see them and they’re a cool collection.”

[US Bank still hopes for bigger (but not as big) new downtown signage]

Fimble said the agency is working with Osborn and the City of Boise on the concept.

The signs were eyed for other locations, including a tunnel near the Grove Plaza built as part of the Boise Centre expansion.

Osborn told BoiseDev nothing has been decided on the project, but said she was hopeful the latest attempt would work out.

CCDC hopes to add several art projects to the Grove St. corridor as part of a set of long-gestating projects to rework the downtown street on either side of the Grove Plaza.

Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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