Goldmann’s Campaign Canceled, Sign Headed to Cincinnati
Historic neon sign won't return to Mitchell Street, instead slated to go to sign museum.
A $20,000 fundraising campaign to repair and display the former Goldmann’s Department Store sign has been canceled. The 800-pound sign will be shipped to the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati where it will eventually be repaired and installed in the indoor museum.
On Monday we reported that the group sign had the 24-foot-tall sign, an approved plan and a location, all they needed was the money to make it happen. Now they’ve changed directions.
“Preservation is a tough hobby which can be bittersweet, but with efforts by many people over the last two years, I’m happy to have saved this treasure and ensured its future,” said Old Milwaukee Facebook group leader Adam Levin. The Milwaukee history enthusiast co-founded the non-profit Old Milwaukee Neon Co. with three partners earlier this month. Levin reported that he refunded all of the donations received through the GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign.
What changed in a week? “I reached out to the sign museum and asked if they came to a decision and they accepted,” said Levin in an interview. “$20,000 is a lot of money to raise and not easy to raise. I really think it needs an indoor life. It’s done its time outside.” Levin had described the sign museum as an option earlier this week.
“The foundation created to save old Milwaukee neon doesn’t end here,” said Levin in a post announcing the change. He pledged that the newly-formed organization would stay active in saving neon signs in Milwaukee.
The sign sat behind the former store before a collector purchased it and hauled the sign to North Dakota in 2015, storing it in a field. Levin crowdfunded $2,000 in late 2017 to buy the sign back and former area alderman Jim Witkowiak, who owns a funeral home at 529 W. Historic Mitchell St., went to pick it up. “For some reason, I just woke up one morning and said I’ll go get the sign,” said Witkowiak at a hearing regarding the sign’s future.
Witkowiak and Levin presented a plan to the Historic Preservation Commission in July to mount the sign in a parking lot Witkowiak owns at 545 W. Historic Mitchell St. The commission unanimously endorsed the plan and wished the partners good luck.
The sign, currently in storage at a property owned by Witkowiak, still needs to be shipped to Ohio. Levin is working with the museum on coordinating transportation.
Enjoy the photos of the sign’s future home from our 2018 trip to Cincinnati.
American Sign Museum
Sign and Rendering
Video Showing Sign Condition
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