Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign...

One of the simplest ways to show those driving through town that we care about just how our town looks is how signs are displayed.

Touchy subject, I know, but think about it. If you were shopping for a doctor, and he chose to hang his shingle on a posterboard with his name and specialty in Magic Marker you may not choose him as your PCP.

Businesses invest a good amount in their signs, and at the time they are usually designed they have themselves in mind, not the community. After all, they want a sign that will attract the passerby to their establishment, and that's what their sign is designed to do. Unfortunately, there are many businesses in a town, all with different needs, and ways of thinking. The result can be one ugly mess.

I think we have the start of one here in town.

Now, before you start getting all in a huff, hear me out first. First of all, think of the last time you visited a town that had a pleasant, well thought out down town. Maybe, an historic town like Concord, or Deerfield. Now think about how that town presented itself to you. The "curb appeal" of the town.

I am sure there were many businesses in the town. Think about how the Main Street looked. Was it a jumble of signs of different shapes , materials, colors, heights? Were some reminiscent of the 1960's and still advertising "Color TV"? Were some plastic and lit from within, and others carved wooden signs lit from below or above? Did they fit architecture of the buildings? Were some advertising businesses long gone? Or, did they blend with the area, compliment the environment, current in design, and still manage to be effective advertising?

One of the ways to tell if someone doesn't care about themselves is the way they present themselves. Same holds true for a business, or a community.

There are several standout signs here in town. They leave a great impression, and the businesses they are in front of take great pride in how they "present" themselves. Susan's Secret Garden on Main Street in Fiskdale is one such place. The building stands out and represents the business owner in a wonderful light. The shopper sees the pride taken by the owner. Another place is the Brier Patch, also on Main Street. Both signs are well thought out, and compliment the area nicely.

There are the ugly signs in town, too. We all see them, so there is no sense in mentioning them here, but they don't do a thing for the "curb appeal" for the businesses they represent, never mind the town. There's even a tall old motel sign on Main Street in front of a closed driveway to the old motel. Why?

So, what's my point? Just as we dress up ourselves in order to make a good impression, we should encourage the same when dressing up the town.

Do we need more by laws with specifics for signage? Don't know. Maybe just a few businesses setting an example, then another, and another.

Change by example. It works.

TOP PHOTO: Margaret Bourke-White United States, 1904-1971Through a Windshield, the 40-mile Baltimore-Washington Stretch is One Long Clutter of Ugly Signs, 1938

LOWER PHOTO: Not Sturbridge, but could be.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, what is it with those blue signs (Motel 6) popping up in town? They're
    out of place, plastic, and downright ugly.


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