WASATCH FRONT NEWS: Salt Lake, Summit, Tooele, Utah, and Wasatch counties

‘History and the story of a neighborhood’: SLC historical sign painted over

Wasatch Front

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – If you’re a Salt Lake City local, chances are you’ve seen an old Snelgrove Ice Cream Cone sign while traveling throughout the city. 

The old turning signs remind Utahns of their younger years spent in the capital city of the great Beehive State. 

There are a few of these signs still scattered around the city, and good news, they won’t be going away anytime soon even if the owners of the new building might like them to. 

You might notice a sign looking different than you remember, yet still, they stand. 

The Snelgrove sign located on 2100 South is in its native form. The bright colors make their presence known on top of the sign. But have you seen the Snelgrove sign on 400 South has had its double scoop colors covered by black paint?  

Nick Norris, Planning Director for Salt Lake City tells ABC4, the Snelgrove signs located in Salt Lake City have been deemed historic and cannot be taken down. 

Norris tells ABC4 there are a few ways a sign or place in Salt Lake City can become officially historic. 

The first way Norris shares, is if the sign is in a local historic district within the city. Local historic districts are properties throughout the city that have been deemed historical locations through city or state officials, Norris adds.

If you have a historic sign on land that falls within a local historic district, you have to go through the historic review process to decide what can be done with the sign.  

A sign can also be deemed historic if it is a “vintage sign.” Norris says the process for some of the cities older signs that would not be allowed today during updated zoning laws are called vintage signs. They are maintained because of their character. 

“A vintage sign can be moved and retained,” Norris shares with ABC4. He says these signs can also be called “a none conforming sign,” meaning it doesn’t meet current zoning.  

He says the signs are unique. They are retained with the idea they have so much character they should be able to stay as they are. Norris says this process encouraged the city to “find a way to make sure they can be retained.” 

He says the vintage sign process is often put into place when a new business takes over the building of an old one that had a historic sign on the property. 

Moving the sign to a new location or even a different location on the property allows the new business owners to advertise their own signage while maintaining the historic character.

So why is the Snelgrove sign on 400 South painted black? According to Norris, the business that currently operates out of the building the sign is attached to wanted to swap it out for their own sign. Norris says the Snelgrove sign does not meet current zoning requirements and could not be replaced. So, the business “painted it back out of protest,” Norris adds.  

Norris says it is important to keep these historical signs intact because “they become these visual landmarks and tell the history and the story of a neighborhood.”

He says putting in the work to maintain them keeps the history of the landmark alive. “People do try to retain them on their building because of the character they add.”

Creating a local landmark in Salt Lake City goes through the city council. Norris says signs are considered historic if they fall within that landmark and historic value. 

According to the Salt Lake City Planning Division, extensive information on the range of issues associated with the maintenance, care, repair, and alteration of a historic property, and on design criteria for new construction in a historic district, the adopted design guidelines provide guidance and advice on ways to meet the design standards in the Salt Lake City Zoning Ordinance.

Historical sign notices are recorded with the county recorders’ office. When business owners purchase or rent a building that is located within a local historic district they will be notified of the historic meaning of their property, Norris adds. 

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