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Kensington Sign Receives Designation

By Maggie McCann & Celia Conover

The Kensington sign, Historical Resources Board Site #865. Photo by Sandé Lollis


On Thursday, April 24th, the Kensington Sign earned a new name, Historical Resources Board Site #865. The board unanimously voted in favor, with one member commenting that they were surprised it hadn't already received one. Other board members acknowledged how wonderful the sign is in its simplicity, its authenticity and how it appears to float over Adams Avenue.

The sign has done so since it was installed in 1954 by a group of businessmen wanting to promote the Adams Avenue commercial district east of what is now SR-15. The sign epitomizes the Modern aesthetic, with its clean design, rounded corners, straightforward white letter forms and green background, complemented by the glow of rose neon by night. Even the support poles and suspension cables are understated.

Built of galvanealled steel with a baked enamel finish and hand-crafted neon tubing, the sign was purchased by the Kensington Park Business Association from the San Diego NEON Sign Company for a cost of $1,166.

The Kensington sign, along with the Normal Heights sign, are the only two original neon community signs left in San Diego. Others, such as the Hillcrest sign, have been fully rebuilt or replicated.

The nomination came at a critical point in the sign's history because it was slated for demolition and replacement by the group that has owned and maintained the sign since 1964, the Kensington-Talmadge Community Association.

They had been led to believe the sign must be replaced and had raised a significant amount of money through donations and a grant to create a new sign in its place. The historic designation will most certainly change these plans, and give the community the assurance that this very special icon will continue to identify the neighborhood of Kensington.

The Kensington sign not only marks the business district east of SR-15 as it was originally intended to do, the familiar icon has come to represent the entire neighborhood of Kensington.

2008 - Volume 39, Issue 1/2

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