Sonrise Donuts signs in Springfield come down, will be restored

The historic Sonrise Donuts signs that sat atop a building along Route 66 in Springfield, Illinois, for 70 years were removed from their perch Monday.

But don’t worry. The neon signs won’t be going to the metal-shredding facility. The city of Springfield, which purchased the signs for $22,000 during an online auction in December, eventually will restore and display them again at a to-be-determined spot along the Route 66 corridor to boost tourism.

Springfield wants to develop a “hub” of Route 66 attractions into a “marketable, memorabilia-laden corridor” that would prompt more travelers to stay overnight,  Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau director Scott Dahl told the Springfield State-Journal Register shortly after the signs’ purchase.

The Journal-Register reported a few days ago the Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Moroleon, that occupies the building soon will erect its own rooftop sign in place of the Sonrises. It asked the landlord to remove the old signs because they confused prospective customers.

Ace Sign Co. of Springfield, which has saved or restored several notable Route 66 signs in Illinois and has its own neon-sign museum, took down the signs from its roof at 1101 S. Ninth St. The Springfield State Journal-Register shot a photo of an Ace Sign worker helping remove them Monday morning.

Byron Figuera founded Sonrise Donuts in 1947, and the sign arrived two years later. Don “Donuts” Greenslade, a former employee, bought the business in 1967 and at one point made more than 400 varieties of doughnuts each day until he died in 1998. The doughnuts business closed shortly after that.

(Image of Sonrise Donuts neon signs in Springfield, Illinois, via the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway)

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