The 60-foot-tall structure began as a sign for Thomas Laguardia Jr.’s Giant Food Markets in 1959 and afterwards was sold along with the accompanying building to U-Haul in the late 1980’s. In 2018, the sign went through its latest transformation to become Johnson City’s landmark, adding a unique element to the downtown area. The sign will read bright and bold in a retro design – JOHNSON CITY, TENNESSEE.
The landmark features a design inspired by historic railroad signs and logos and a Tri-Star element representing Tennessee’s three regions created by Johnson City resident Colonel LeeRoy Reeves.
The greenspace surrounding the new landmark where U-Haul’s building previously stood is also undergoing a major transformation, becoming a new park for Johnson City locals and visitors to discover nature, art and walking paths while also adding a new sense of security to the area.
John Bosio of MERJE Design, the company that has designed the wayfinding plan for Johnson City, says, “I can tell you, I work throughout the country with cities of all sizes and aspirations, helping them develop identity and wayfinding programs, many of them only wish they could establish a landmark sign or feature element that will promote their town. But because they are starting from scratch, often approvals, size limitations, engineering and cost often get in the way.
In Johnson City, you have the unique opportunity to accomplish this, because you are working with an existing structure and many of the largest hurdles are already cleared. The Johnson City sign can be a landmark element that will promote the city as it appears advertising, social media and television … well beyond your city borders.”
With these new additions to downtown comes sponsorship opportunities. All donations will be accepted and recognized at the ribbon cutting event, and those of $500 or above will be included on a custom piece of metal art located in the new park. Sizes of names will depend upon the level of donation, with donations of $10,000 or more receiving the largest font design and a space on the Downtown Johnson City website with a featured logo for 12 months.
The Achieving Landmark Status Campaign is a project of the Downtown Johnson City Foundation. All gifts to the foundation are tax deductible. Previous projects include the restoration of the Lady of the Fountain Plaza and the Grown and Gathered event in the Pavilion at Founders Park. The redesign of the structure must be funded by private donations, checks should be made to the Downtown Johnson City Foundation, and mailed to 300 E. Main Street, Suite 406, Johnson City, TN 37601.
Downtown Johnson City is where buildings have meaning and where there is a distinctive sense of place; where the community’s story is told, it’s culture is on display and its history is narrated. Johnson City’s new landmark gives those who support it the opportunity to have their own sense of place in our downtown region.
To make a donation online using a credit or debit card, follow this link.
For more information about the campaign, please view the brochure: Achieving Landmark Status Brochure