Saturday, January 18, 2014

Changing of the Sign, Changing of the Guard

Although "FIRST NATIONAL BANK" is still etched in the stone of the frieze, the 1922 bank building at the southwest corner of Warren and Sixth streets, featured in the movie Odds Against Tomorrow, is once again getting a new name. Shortly after ten this morning, Gossips got word that the new sign was being installed.

Signage in a locally designated historic district, which Warren Street certainly is, requires a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission, but no certificate of appropriateness had been sought for this sign. Applying for an erection permit should have triggered a review by the HPC, but that didn't happen. Could it be that, as with the steeple spire a block to the north, the code enforcement office had been bypassed as well as the HPC?

It turns out that an erection permit had been duly obtained, but it seems that code enforcement officer Craig Haigh believed, because it was the same type of sign that had been there before, a certificate of appropriateness was not required. It was, after all, replacing like with like. Unfortunately, that rule doesn't really apply in the case of signs. Fortunately, the Berkshire Bank sign is less garish than the Bank of America sign that was there before, but historic preservation isn't supposed to be about taste. At what point, one wonders though, was the great window over the entrance eliminated so that an illuminated sign could be mounted in that space?

Screen capture from Odds Against Tomorrow

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