A Glimpse into the Past: How Neon Signs and New Color Schemes are Reviving Bangor
Downtown Bangor is more vibrantly colored because an increasing amount of custom neon signs and striking paint colors have been adorning the façades of buildings over the last couple of years.
In the last month, downtown businesses including Red Rabbit Bazaar, on the second floor of 9 Central St., and Chimera Coffee, the new name of the new owners of West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse have put up eye-catching custom neon signs inside their windows.
The “Hopeful” The “Hopeful,” an artwork of public art composed out of neon light, and hangs on 152 Main St., advertising an attitude of mind, not an organization, was put up in 2021.
Several businesses have over the past year or two painted their storefronts in striking new colors. For example, the gold and blue on the bar and restaurant at the Lazy Hound, and the striking red and black facade of Three Graces Tattoo & Art Gallery.
custom neon signs hanging signs, and colorful facades are relatively new additions to the downtown after a few policy changes began allowing greater creativity in the way businesses may customize their premises.
In 2019, Bangor Historic Preservation Commission amended its code to allow more flexibility in the way that tenants and owners of buildings can paint or modify their properties, such as not needing commission approval regarding things like paint colors and signs.
The majority of downtown is situated in the Great Fire, West Market, or Main Street districts. These historic districts have specific rules regarding changes to buildings.
With these changes, and with the introduction of new rules that allow businesses to place additional signs in their windows, some facades are painted in a variety of colors, exciting new signs that are attached to walls and hanging, and the most recent neon signs.
Brenda Bilotta is Bangor’s code enforcement officer’s licensing coordinator. She is in charge of approving the signage in Bangor.
A custom neon sign can be easily, inexpensively, and quickly. Although there are local sign makers that can do work in neon, there are several online purveyors that can create signs that are custom-designed for as low as $200, though the price will increase with bigger sizes and the addition of LEDs with color-changing capabilities.
Before the 1980s, the downtown of Bangor was dotted with signs. They included signs on buildings and large billboards on roofs.
Many old and historic structures were demolished when Bangor attempted to create an orderly and neat downtown in the mid-1970s.
To preserve the historical buildings that remain in the late 1980s, the city adopted strict guidelines regarding how buildings could be altered as well as what signage was allowed.
The regulations were not able to keep pace with the technological advances and federal law by the 1990s. In many cases, the use of equipment such as heat pumps or ramps for wheelchairs wasn’t permitted. The rules were finally relaxed in 2019, which was years after the first time they were implemented.
The moment is now that it appears there is a compromise achieved that keeps the historic nature of many downtown structures while making the city more accessible to the new world.