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
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.”
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.
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.
With info from http://www.agilitynut.com/signs/norge.html
And the Ottawa Citizen.