Sign of the times

Published 7:01 am Sunday, July 30, 2017

Many of us love history and those threads that connect us to our community’s past. The letters that make up the Austin Municipal Plant are a perfect example of this.

Cables run from letter to letter. Eric Johnson/

Last week they were removed from atop the plant where they blazed for years — an icon of downtown Austin. But while that history was removed it will not be thrown away.

Instead, Austin Utilities is repurposing the sign to be mounted on one of the buildings at the new Austin Utilities Service and Operations Center.

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“There was a lot of talk in the planning stages to repurpose that sign,” said Operations Supervisor Jess Dunlap. “There was a lot of interest in the community in keeping that sign.”

One of the sign’s letters leans against the plant underneath the address sign. Eric Johnson/

The sign was over in Rochester earlier this week where the neon lights were being replaced with LED lights. Dunlap estimated that the lights would be mounted later in the week.

“You’ll be able to see it from the road,” Dunlap said.

In November of last year the power was shut off for the final time, dimming the sign that spanned the width of the main plant building.

The removal of the sign from the downtown plant moves the building and surrounding structures one step closer to demolition to make room for the new Community Recreation Center. However, it’s uncertain at this point when the buildings will be torn down.

“We’re in the preliminary planning stages,” Dunlap said. “The tentative dates are October and November to start demolitions but that’s very tentative right now.”

The end of an era for downtown Austin as the sign from the Austin Municipal Plant came down last week.