Historic sign will illuminate Old Brooklyn CDC’s new digs

A vintage blade sign that has been a landmark of Old Brooklyn since the 1940s is coming full circle. Having once marked the location of the old Atlas Furniture building at 4274 Pearl Road, it will soon become the marquee for the future Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation headquarters in the same location.

The historic sign will serve as the neighborhood’s centerpiece after it is restored and takes its place on Pearl Road in the summer of 2018, says Jason Powers, OBCDC director of marketing and development. “If you’re from Old Brooklyn, or you’re in one of the 20,000 cars that commute up Pearl Road, you know that sign,” he says. “This will add vibrancy to our Main Street. Old Brooklyn has always been amazing, but we never had that centerpiece.”

Old Brooklyn unveiled a $10 million new streetscape along Pearl Road earlier this year, which includes benches, public art, wider sidewalks, and more space for outdoor uses by businesses. OBCDC bought the old Atlas building for $87,000 through auction in March, and is in the midst of an estimated $800,000 renovation for its new headquarters and two retail and lifestyle or food tenants.

"Just as when the building was constructed in 1940, the future is bright in Old Brooklyn,” says OBCDC executive director Jeffrey T. Verespej. “When this opened, our neighborhood was in the middle of a boom and now 80 years later a resurgence of small businesses, community leadership, and redevelopment is shining a light on a great place to grow.”

As part of the transformation, OBCDC launched its Illuminate capital campaign to raise $25,000, or roughly half the estimated cost of renovating the sign. Powers says they have reached 70 percent of that goal and have received bids from several local sign restoration companies about doing the work.

“We are excited to be able to bring back the historic beauty of the sign through the Illuminate Campaign, a key element in the unique modern style of the building,” explains Rosemary Mudry, OBCDC director of neighborhood development, who adds the only other Cleveland example of such a sign is at the Greyhound Bus station downtown. “Without its most prominent feature, the 34-foot blade sign, much of the history and look that distinguishes the building would be lost.”

Although the sign’s history is a bit muddled, Powers says just about everyone in Old Brooklyn remembers it. The sign at one time displayed the word “Atlas,” and more recently displayed “Palace.” When restoration is complete, the sign will read “Old Brooklyn.”

“This is going to be our town hall,” says Powers of the renovated building. “We wanted Old Brooklyn to be very obvious on the sign. No one is going to miss where they are.”

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.