Utah Stories

Refurbished Signage Keeps Sugar House History Alive

The character of Sugar House lives on through restored and vintage signs.


The restored roto-sphere atop the Sugar House sign. Photo by Steven Vargo

With all the changes in the Sugar House landscape, it is comforting to see little reminders scattered throughout the area of days gone by.

 The “Sputnik” sign topper that sat atop the old Granite Furniture Store sign has recently been restored and remounted thanks to Steve White of Young Electric Sign Company.

Steve explains that it is actually called a roto-sphere. The design was patented by Warren D. Milks in 1961, and quickly became part of sign history. YESCO installed the original Granite Furniture sign in the early 1960s, and contracted with Milks to provide one of his roto-spheres for the top.

When it stopped rotating and the lights went out, YESCO and Steven White stepped in to restore it. White is the go-to guy for restoring vintage signs. He lovingly restored Ogden’s 25th Street Dragon for Star Noodle Parlor.

Steve White restoring the Sugar House roto-sphere. Photo courtesy of YESCO

 For the Sugar House roto-sphere, he was able to go to the original company, Dynapac, located in Salt Lake City, for new parts for the rotating mechanism. In the 1970s, Dynapac switched out  Milks original gears for mechanical parts, and White was able to get replacements similar to the original parts.

The lights were another matter. The original lights were neon, but took up a lot of space and added weight. White turned to LED bars that approximate the same effect as neon. What loves neon and hated to see it go, blastedbut he lightened the sphere by 500 pounds and reduced the energy cost by 80 percent.
In early August, the sphere returned to the sky, hoisted by two cranes. The street had to be shut down because the cranes were so heavy they might damage the new heated walkways.

Some of the Sugar House vintage signs – Photos by Steven Vargo

After a little more than a month of work, the Sugar House “Sputnik” is once again spinning in the sky and lighting up the neighborhood. hy2a6584


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