OTTAWA’S ICONIC NORGE BALL GONE BUT NOT LOST

Ottawa lost another landmark and rare sign this month.

Another landmark and rare sign in Ottawa was removed this month.

I have been keeping my eye on a special piece of Ottawa history at risk and thankfully the owner of the property at 320 Lisgar St. recognized the importance of the landmark sign on his property and saved this Ottawa icon. According to to a new Ottawa Citizen article, Arthur Loeb saved the sign after the building on his property was slated for demolition.

On July 4th demolition crews demolished the building at 320 Lisgar St, a former laundromat and more recently, home to Venus Envy, a business that has since moved from that location. Now the building itself was nothing special, a typical late 1960s concrete and glass structure. But it was not the building that was special, it was what was outside it that was: THE NORGE BALL. A complete and detailed look at this unique sign can be found here at RoadSideArchitecture.com

On July 4th the old Norge Village Laundromat and former Venus Envy store was demolished and the rare and iconic was lost with it. (photo via Twitter @venusenvyottawa)

On July 4th the old Norge Village Laundromat and former Venus Envy store was demolished but the rare and iconic “Norge Ball” was saved (photo via Twitter @venusenvyottawa)

Once part of Norge Village Cleaners, a nationwide laundromat chain out of Chicago, these signs were a unique aesthetic. Norge developed these plastic, polka-dotted ball signs, appropriately nicknamed “Norge Balls” during the 1960s as their corporate signage. Approximately four feet in diameter, these rare signs would be illuminated and rotated on a fixed pole.

Ottawa had a few locations across the city and ads of the time boasted that the user could do “personal dry cleaning similar to a coin-operated washer. You simply open a glass door, toss in an arm load of clothes, insert quarters, and the machine whirls gently and quietly through a 50-minute cycle.”

Original Norge Village Laundry ad in the 1961 Ottawa Journal.

Original Norge Village Laundry ad in the 1961 Ottawa Journal.

A popular landmark in the city for anyone that passed it off Bank St. this polka-dotted elevated orb elevated on a metal pole was a unique piece of history that has been removed like many other classic signs in Ottawa. It reminded us of a time when signs were carefully designed and built, adding to the unique visual streetscape of our city.

The Ottawa Norge Ball sign is one of only about 60 to still exist out of an original 3,400 made, and was reportedly the only one to still exist in Canada.

The Ottawa Norge Ball sign is one of only about 60 known to still exist out of an original 3,400 made. It was reportedly the only one to exist in Canada.

Of the 3,400 original Norge Balls made, only 60 are known to exist, with Ottawa having the only one known to still exist in Canada. A rare sign whose fate is thankfully safe from destruction. So many of these classic Ottawa signs are lost and I’m very grateful to Loeb that the sign has been thoughtfully removed and stored for possible future use. I have been working with a local business over the last few months designing their new signage and we have discussed how we would like to re-purpose and restore this sign and bring it back to its former glory so residents can continue to enjoy this rare and unique Ottawa icon.

Farewell to an Ottawa icon, the Norge Ball off Bank St. on Lisgar St. was one of the few remaining Norge Balls known to exist.

Farewell to an Ottawa icon, the Norge Ball off Bank St. on Lisgar St. was one of the few remaining Norge Balls known to exist in North America.

 

 With info from http://www.agilitynut.com/signs/norge.html

And the Ottawa Citizen.

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for the credit to my Norge Ball pages [at RoadsideArchitecture.com] even though it’s buried at the end of your post. However, you really should ask for permission (clearly stated at my website and common courtesy) before you yank and use photos. At least two of the photos are mine and it would be appreciated if you would at least put a credit below each one.

    1. My apologies if I did not give you a more prominent credit, and any reference to your photos has been removed. I placed a link to your site in the body of the text in addition to the existing credit at the end of the post. No disrespect was intended, only to share with others the mystique of the Norge Ball.

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