The sudden closure of the Ritz Classic Lanes in 2015 was met with dismay. Because for more than half a century, it was the haunt of bowlers across the valley; its towering neon bowling pin sign on south State Street stood as an iconic landmark since 1958.
The land was sold to developers who planned to raze the alley and construct an apartment complex. Any remnant of the once popular bowling joint was soon to be lost. For better or worse, as new development continues to reshape the valley, nostalgic symbols, such as the Ritz bowling pin, are often tossed to the wayside.
Bowling pins are knocked down every day. But in the footprint of a toppled bowling pin, is another that is placed upright.
It's fitting then that the sign on south State Street was hoisted back on its post Tuesday morning. The pin will be on display for the foreseeable future.
“It will last another 70 years or longer,” said Joel Warden, an account executive at Yesco.
Yesco, a national company with local offices that makes custom signs, began working with the new property owners to figure out whether the sign could be fixed but instead decided to build a replica.
“We did a thorough survey of it and we determined that it wouldn’t make sense to refurbish the old sign,” Warden said. “For it to be structurally sound, to get rid of all the old rusty components, we decided with Weidner that the best thing to do would be to replace the old sign.”
Weidner Apartment Homes will complete construction of the apartments by 2018, according to Vice President of Public Relations Greg Cerbana.
The pin will mark the entryway to the apartments.
“We were very excited to make sure that we repurposed something that was here before,” Cerbana said of the new sign. “I think for the citizens of Salt Lake this is going to be a good thing that we were able to bring back some of the elements of the original building into the new building.”
Warden mentioned the sign, made of rolled steel tube, is meant to conjure up memories from the past.
“We wanted it to be 1950’s style, go back to the original,” he said. Instead of the neon lights, however, the designers equipped the sign with contour LED lights in a sleeve.
“We wanted it to look like the original neon without the maintenance of neon,” Warden said. “Neon goes bad in hot and cold weather. It requires more maintenance. LEDs last forever and they hardly use any power.”
A giant crane lifted the bowling pin. Workers with hardhats stood nearby as the sign was fastened to a pole, which encases the original stem.