Neon Sheep! A Giant Shoe! And More! Exploring Bakersfield’s Americana Gems

As mentioned in my last post, Bakersfield has a lot of vintage neon still out in the wild, plus a few pretty amazing backlit plastic signs, which was one of the reasons we wanted to visit. And boy did we find some great signs, plus we stumbled upon some abandoned locations as well.

An abandoned and overgrown garage building with the top portion leaning backwards, about to collapse on itself.

A stucco and wood garage style building, with the wooden roof that has collapsed in. Old wheels and tires are leaned against the side.

Hand painted text reading "Restroom" with a little arrow.

Close-up of the boards from the roof that now lay in various angles from falling in. Faded paint reads "John's"

“John’s” 14441 S Union Avenue

Tall pink, red, and turquoise sign reading "Highland Lodge Restaurant Cocktails" Various parts are faded and flaking. A portion below is missing.

Highland Lodge 9350 S Union Avenue

Black and white photo of the sign for the Globe Motel. Pigeons have made the sign their home, with a variety of them sitting atop. A faded and flaking arrow points toward the rooftops of the motorcourt style motel.

Globe Motel 1701 S Union Avenue

A small dilapidated tan home with boarded up windows. A sprawling dead field stretches out behind it.

A small light brown home with dark brown trim, the front window is boarded up. A white picket fence with flaking paint sits in front.

Black and white photo of an abandoned home, its mail box sits, almost about to fall off of its post.

Abandoned house 2341 Taft Highway

Signage for the Arizona Cafe. An arrow with a backlit plastic sign sits on the roof, a red, yellow, and green neon sign reading "Arizona Cafe" faces the front of the cafe.

Arizona Cafe 809 Baker Street

This place was hopping when we stopped to snap this photo, so perhaps we may make an effort to grab a bite here during a future visit to Bakersfield.

Neon sign on the corner of a building reading "Lazo's" and features a hand aiming a billiard cue at a ball.

Blade style sign for a billiard hall, reading "Billiards" down in neon, an arrow next to it has a backlit plastic sign reading "Eight Ball Pool Hall" and features an eight ball.

Dueling Pool Halls – Lazo’s Pool Hall and Eight Ball Pool Hall 801 and 803 Baker Street

A small red, white, and black neon sign simply reads "Luigi's"

Luigi’s 725 E 19th Street

Sadly Luigi’s was closed during our visit, but I am eager to return and visit sometime in the future, as it is an institution, operating in the same location since 1910.

A simple neon sign reads "Dinners Pyrenees Cocktails"

Pyrenees Cafe 601 Sumner Street

Backlit plastic sign that is shaped like a loaf of French bread, with text reading "Pyrenees French Bakery Fresh Bread Daily"

Pyrenees French Bakery 717 E 21st Street

The black building of the Silver Fox. Atop the roof sits a sign of black, red, and blue, reading "The Silver Fox" featuring a neon fox. Two backlit plastic signs reside on the side of the building, one reads "Silver Fox" the other reads "Starlite Lounge"

The Silver Fox 702 18th Street

If the sign looks familiar, it’s because you just saw it in my Kern County Museum post. This is a replica that replaced the original, which was then sent to the museum, in April of 2020.

A large backlit plastic cactus rises toward a blue sky. A yellow rectangle crosses the cactus reading "Mexicali Mexican Food"

A large backlit plastic cactus rises toward a blue sky. A yellow rectangle crosses the cactus reading "Mexicali Mexican Food"

Mexicali 631 18th Street

An abandoned storefront or bar, white stucco makes up the upper part, while the middle is of red painted wood.

Abandoned bar or storefront 819 E 18th Street

A red, white, and blue neon sign reads "Drugs"

Silver Spray Drugs 2191 Niles Street

A green neon sign reads "Wool Growers Restaurant Cocktails" and features a sheet by a fence.

Wool Growers Restaurant 620 E 19th Street

A red neon sign features a palm tree at the top. Letters spell out "Palms Liquors"

Palms Liquors 1207 Chester Avenue

A red barn style building with white trim reads "Bad Dog Bail Bonds" just past the building is a red and white neon sign reading "Bail Bond Leon"

Bail Bond Leon 1440 Chester Avenue

A shoe repair shop that is shaped like a gigantic shoe, complete with laces at the top.

Big Shoe Shoe Repair 931 Chester Avenue

At 25 feet tall and 32 feet long, the Big Shoe Shoe Repair is a prime example of “California Crazy” architecture built in 1947.

Extravagant neon sign for the Rice Bowl. A bowl with Chinese characters has a flame rising out of it.

Rice Bowl 1119 18th Street

Green neon letters reading "The Mint" are attached to the side of a stucco building. A small red sign juts out from the building reading "Cocktails" and features a small arrow above.

The Mint 1207 19th Street

The Fox Theatre, an elegant Spanish Colonial Revival style building with a tall clock tower at its corner, with red letters spelling "Fox" an Art Deco marque curves around the corner with script reading "Fox" in neon.

Close-up of the script reading "Fox" in neon that sits above the marque.

The box office, with gold trim around the top, and gold detailing below the window.

The Fox Theater 2001 H Street

Located in downtown Bakersfield, the Fox Theatre opened on Christmas day, 1930, and was designed by Los Angeles architect S. Charles Lee. The only air-conditioned movie theater in the San Joaquin Valley, it seated 1500 movie goers and originally it featured a Mediterranean village interior. In 1953 it received an Art Deco update, revamping the marquee and box office, along with adding a concession stand to the lobby. In 1977 the movie palace closed, and was threatened with demolition, but the community rallied to save it, and it reopened in 1994, staying a movie theatre, while also proving a venue for performing arts and local events.

Large red letters sit atop the roof reading "Padre Hotel"

The Padre Hotel 1702 18th Street

Like many hotels of its time, the Padre Hotel features an amazing rooftop neon sign that still lights up at night. Built in 1928 the Padre Hotel is located near the Fox and a plethora of antique malls in downtown. It is also supposedly haunted!

Guthrie's Alley Cat, a small Art Deco style building. The lower half is made up of blue tiles. A neon sign of red and yellow reads "Guthrie's Alley" and then features a small black cat.

An Art Deco style building of blue tile features a small yellow awning with a neon "Cocktails" sign hanging from it.

Guthrie’s Alley Cat 1525 Wall Street

Established in 1940, Guthrie’s Alley Cat features an amazing Streamline Moderne “awning” of sorts and an adorable cat instead of the word “cat” on its neon sign.

The Nile Theater, an Art Deco style building with a tower in the center reading "Nile" down it in blue letters. The marque features neon and reads "Nile" in cursive white neon.

The Nile Theater, an Art Deco style building with a tower in the center reading "Nile" down it in blue letters. The marque features neon and reads "Nile" in cursive white neon.

The Nile (now Resurrection Church) 1721 19th Street

Originally the home of the Bakersfield Opera House in 1906, it became The Nile in 1924, and underwent various remodels, including becoming a twin screen theatre in 1976. It closed in 1994, later transforming into the Nile Bar & Grill in 2006. Like other old cinemas, it is now a church. Also, like the Padre, it is supposedly haunted.

I highly recommend taking a spin around Bakersfield if you find yourself on a road trip through it. And for more great signs and a bite to eat, I recommend Andre’s Drive-In!

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