Brea Old and New: Tick-Tock, History Isn't So Boring After All™ ~ Charlie the Clock

The Brea Sign, Old and New

8 years ago by in ( Welcome to Brea )


The Brea Sign, July 2001

On June 22, 2001, after almost 10 years in storage, Breans were delighted when our most famous landmark, The Brea Sign, was re-placed at the intersection of Brea Blvd and Birch Street. But, why was the sign placed on a rotating post on the corner of Brea Blvd and Birch Street, instead of a bridge?  Why is it standing, specifically, on that corner? Is this the original sign, or was it completely rebuilt?

Originally constructed  over seventy-five years ago by the Brea Lions Club, the sign was dedicated in a grand ceremony on April 5, 1934, attended by Mayor Lynn Amos Hogue, Councilman Frank Schweitzer, Sr. (who designed the original candilever bridge that held the sign), W.D. Shaffer (a local businessman who funded a significant part of its construction), and former Mayor, Assemblyman (and soon to be Speaker of the California Assembly), Ted Craig, among other local dignitaries. The Brea Sign, over the years, became a landmark, not just for the local community, but for people passing through from neighboring cities.

After 58 years, in 1992, Breans were disappointed to find their beloved sign had been removed after the bridge holding it was damaged by a passing vehicle. What most didn't know, however, is the sign had been carefully placed in storage and was awaiting renovation and reconstruction for an eventual re-dedication in the new Brea Downtown.

Architects for the Downtown Redevelopment Agency found the Brea Sign to be an interesting design challenge. The first question they had to answer was how would it integrate into the new downtown. In the years between removal and redevelopment, Brea had grown up and Brea Blvd, once four-lanes, was now six. New code requirements, truck height restrictions and right-of-way requirements had to be considered.

The actual Brea Sign is 3' x 10' wide. If the sign were to be put back on a bridge, that bridge would have had to be fifty feet across. That's almost half a football field of bridge holding up a 3' x 10' sign. It's a difficult concept to imagine.

Design architects created photo montages of the sign, each suggesting various possibilities for placement. One suggestion, mounting the sign on the side of a building, was rejected  immediately since they didn't want to make a private building owner responsible for the sign. Another idea was to span the sign across and above one of the Paseos (the bricked walkways between some of the businesses), but, the sign needed to be visible from a prominent location. This idea was also taken out of the equation.

The Redevelopment Agency and the design architects liked the idea of placing the sign on a "100% corner", making it centralized and viewable from all directions because it is seen as an "icon" of the downtown area. Today's placement  at Brea Blvd and Birch Street allows the sign to also be seen from Imperial Hwy, as it was when it was first dedicated in 1934.

To make the sign even more prominent and easily seen, a rotating pole (4 rpm) design was decided on. Over the years, shade trees with benches have been added, along with a Directory to the Downtown.

Restoration of the sign was performed by a company specializing in historic renovations.  Ampersand, Inc., while respecting the history and integrity of the sign, added neon around the sign face, along with a brass plate at the top that says "Downtown". The post the sign sits on is painted black, but toned down a few shades from the black on the sign itself.  This was done intentionally to make the sign more prominent than the post it sets on. With the exception of these small, cosmetic changes, the sign you see today is the same one built and dedicated in that ceremony that took place in 1934.




Author :

"Thank you" for visiting Beautiful Brea Old & New (BBON). First & foremost, I am a proud mother & wife. I am also a well-rounded freelance consultant. But you can call me an enthusiastic cheerleader, supporting and promoting the city of Brea and its historic iconic Charlie's Clock turned "Charlie the Clock cartoon character!" Click on the front page illustration to read about the beloved time traveling talking clock!!

  • Carolyn Campbell

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