Cecil Hotel’s Historic Room Rate Sign Gets White-Washed, Angering Preservationists


photo: Christopher Alvarenga/Unsplash

From L.A. Taco: While many of us obsess over every last detail of the Cecil Hotel’s tragic past, it appears the new owners of the Downtown property are more eager to erase it.

The exterior wall on the historic hotel’s southwestern wall has been entirely painted white, instantly erasing the classic, hand-painted advertisement for room rates that has appeared on the building since your Art Walk stumbling days. The massive signage, which spanned multiple floors, was a familiar landmark of the Downtown skyline, stating “HOTEL CECIL LOW DAILY WEEKLY RATES 700 ROOMS.”

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Taco Bell’s first restaurants only offered 5 items, and most are no longer on the menu


The first Taco Bell, located in Downey, California, wasn’t just a fast-food restaurant. It was a whole scene. (Taco Bell Corp.)

From WHNT.com: The very first Taco Bell location was no bigger than a two-car garage. It didn’t have indoor seating, it didn’t have a drive-thru, and it certainly didn’t have Doritos Locos Tacos, supreme or otherwise.

It did, however, have several menu items that are nowhere to be found among Taco Bell’s current offerings, including a “chili burger.”

Glen Bell, the chain’s founder, opened his first Taco Bell in Downey, California, in 1962. Bell had previously operated a number of fast-food restaurants throughout the ‘50s — including Bell’s Drive-In and Taco Tia — but he was envisioning something altogether different for Taco Bell. Specifically, he had an idea for a small walk-up taco stand surrounded by “shops, live music and fire pits,” according to Taco Bell.

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A Georgia Restaurant Has a Racist History. What Should Become of It?


Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, a restaurant in Smyrna, Ga., shut down years ago. Lane Brothers, via Georgia State University

From The New York Times: SMYRNA, Ga. — For half a century, celebrities, tourists and local residents flocked to Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, a restaurant known as much for its Southern menu as for its depiction of plantation life and racist imagery, where white patrons were served by young Black waiters with yoke-like wooden menu boards hung around their necks.

Aunt Fanny herself — Fanny Williams, a Black cook who worked for the white family who owned the business — was once described in a newspaper article as “a famous colored mammy.”

The restaurant shut down 30 years ago, but the little white cabin itself, easily overlooked along Atlanta Road in the small suburban city of Smyrna, has become the center of an unlikely debate about how a Southern community can move on from its painful past without forgetting its history in the process.

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Didn’t Used To Be a Pizza Hut: Or a story of serious detective work in the field of suburban archaeology


From The Deleted Scenes: This building outside a strip plaza in Landover, Maryland, has been driving me crazy for almost a month:

Notice anything unusual about it? I did. For one, it lacks Pizza Hut’s trademark trapezoidal windows. Secondly, it’s a square, not a rectangle, and the roof is not quite the trademark Pizza Hut roof. Third, that orange pillar at the corner looks out of place, suggesting exterior alterations.

In other words, when I drove past this, I immediately suspected that it was not built to be a Pizza Hut—making it the only freestanding Pizza Hut I’ve ever seen that occupies a pre-existing building. There’s Used to Be a Pizza Hut, a blog that documents various and often amusing reuses of vacated Pizza Hut buildings. Call this Didn’t Used to Be a Pizza Hut.

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Project brings Washington’s “ghost signs” back to life


This ad for a “womens’ tonic” at the river end of South Market Street is the first of almost a dozen “ghost signs” that artist Samantha Brinson, pictured here, is restoring with help from the Historic Port of Washington Project and several local fundraising efforts. (Karen Thiel)

From the Washington Daily News: A newly returned North Carolinian has teamed up with the Historic Port of Washington Project to produce an artistic revival of Beaufort County’s earlier history – and bring new life to her home town. Samantha Brinson is restoring the “ghost signs” that can be found all over Washington, revealing advertising that, in earlier days, was clearly visible on the exterior walls of local buildings and, in cities all over the world, are considered emotional as well as physical treasures. 

It’s a long way from the glitzy New York scene, where Brinson moved after graduating from UNC’s School of the Arts in 2011. She immediately scored jobs that included creating stage sets for Broadway, Disneyland and Radio City Music Hall productions, as well as Sesame Street and Dreamworks, plua performers as diverse as Madonna and Blue Man Group. During an interview this week, Brinson said her life – and her outlook on what’s important – changed as a result of her experiences when the Covid-19 pandemic limited so much of what she considered important to her. As a result, she moved back to her family, which still lives in Beaufort County.

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Have you seen the pyramids in Wadsworth? Pharaohs in Lincoln Park? ‘Egyptomania’ dates back to the King Tut obsession


Exterior of the Egyptian Theatre, built in 1929, in downtown DeKalb as seen on April 1, 2022. The newer marquee was installed in 1982 during the last large-scale renovation. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

From the Chicago Tribune: Once you leave Chicago headed west on Interstate 88, once the suburbs melt away and after the endless expanses of nothing much at all, when you arrive in DeKalb and drive along 1st Street into its sleepy downtown, just a block off the beaten path, there’s quite the sight. A pair of towering Egyptian pharaohs, and between them, the elegant latticed entrance to the 1,400-seat Egyptian Theatre. It opened in December 1929, just after the stock market crash. And it was always quite the sight. It cost $250,000, or around $4 million today, and was completed several years after the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922, one century ago. Over in Chicago, there were already Egyptian-inspired buildings.

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