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Sugar House Journal

Stark Steering Sign Saved in Sugar House

Jul 13, 2016 10h11 ● By Bryan Scott

The sign-lighting ceremony for the Stark Steering Sign was held on June 4 at the United Natural Products Alliance building on 1075 East Hollywood Ave. —Dino Furano

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Signs point to the past as much as they do to the future, and the restoration of the Stark Steering Sign is supposed to accomplish that.

 A lighting ceremony was held on June 4 at the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) located at 1075 East Hollywood Avenue to celebrate the restoration of a sign originally built in 1956.

“The whole office is on a little bit of a high because of it,” Mika Israelsen, UNPA director of operations, said.

The event was commemorated with a countdown to the lighting ceremony, as dozens of people were in attendance.

“That was my pride and joy. Loren [Israelsen, UNPA president] put me on the project. … I’m so happy because that is my mark on history in Sugar House,” Israelsen said.

Spearheaded by the Saving Our Historic Signs of Sugar House Committee, the sign was refurbished while keeping the aged exterior paint in its natural state, at the owner’s request.

UNPA had plans to restore the sign on their own last year, but the person who was hired to do it took the money and disappeared.

“It was a little heartbreaking and we were kind of jaded, but then this winter we got a knock on our door from the Sugar House Community Council,” Israelsen said.

Lynne Olson of the Sugar House Community Council and member of the Saving Our Historic Signs Committee told Israelsen about their purpose of restoring signs in the Sugar House area.

“My boss was like, ‘Let’s do this,’… and it was a pretty straightforward process from there,” Israelsen said.

The Saving Our Historic Signs Committee is funded by the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency, which established a special account to provide matching funds to property owners who wish to preserve and restore their vintage signs.

Israelsen said they couldn’t be happier about having the sign lit up.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to have done for a long time, and now that it’s finally here and lighting up our lives … it’s just a joyous occasion on so many levels,” Israelsen said.

Israelsen said the community, in particular, has been rewarded the most by the sign restoration.

“We have so many people who stop by and are so curious, like the new people in the neighborhood and some who have been here for decades and will tell us stories [about the sign and its building],” Israelsen said. “There was just so much excitement and gratitude for us restoring the sign.”

Israelsen said it’s important for the area to have an “anchor” to remind people of its past and signal that it will have a future.

“It’s like a tree: the deeper the roots grow, the stronger the community stands, and I think that’s always good for people to have in the back of their heads,” Israelsen said.

The sign is located outside of a building originally constructed as a garage that served as a home base for telephone installation crews and their vehicles from 1947 to 1956. Stark Steering Shop occupied the garage for its automotive business until the ’90s.

UNPA purchased the building in 1997, restoring its original architecture plan.

“There’s so much change that’s happening [in Sugar House], so we feel like as many anchors as we can get in the community to remember where it all started, we’re happy to do just that,” Israelsen said.

Rainbow Neon Sign Company repaired the sign, bringing it full circle since the company built the original sign, most likely during the ’50s.

“We are beyond thrilled that our sign is up and running and we hope to inspire other people [to restore their signs]. It is possible and it is affordable,” Israelsen said. “This is history and history is a very important way for the future.”