The SCA Timeline


The idea of forming an organization dedicated to commercial archeology is discussed among a group of historic preservationists attending a meeting at the University of Vermont on November 20. Discussions continue over the next few months.


SCA incorporated in Vermont. The first official meeting is held on March 27 in Harrisville, New Hampshire.


NewsJournal first published in September; second annual meeting held at Columbia University’s School of Architecture in November.


“Commercial Archeology: Architecture, Advertising, and the Automobile,” first such university course, taught by Chester Liebs at Boston University’s American Vernacular Summer Institute; annual fall conference in Washington, D.C., includes tour of Route 1 between the nation’s capital and Baltimore.

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All Night All-Night Diner Tour in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in April; annual fall conference in Philadelphia; SCA administrative archives is established.


Society of Architectural Historians affinity group session, The Future of the Recent Past, held in conjunction with the National Trust for Historic Preservation annual meeting in New York; annual fall meeting and tour scheduled for Miami’s Art Deco District.


June meeting at Boston Architectural Center, followed by a field trip to Nantasket Beach amusement park in Hull, MA; annual fall gathering in Washington, D.C., includes a neon theme and “Diner Days” weekend; SCA has 120 members.
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First Wildwood, New Jersey, meeting in June results in a “Wildwood Workbook.”


Annual meeting in Washington, D.C., concludes with a visit to Glen Echo Amusement Park.


Art Deco Commercial Architecture, 1920-1950, a symposium held in Washington, D.C.; first membership directory published.


Tour of Route 1 from Boston to Maine, postponed from late 1985 due to Hurricane Gloria, is conducted.


Happy 10th birthday party held at Museum of Transportation, Boston.


“Americans and the Automobile” fall conference at the Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI.
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“Its Only Yesterday: The Automobile-Related Environment of New York State” co-sponsored by SCA, Historic Preservation Planning Alumni of Cornell University, and Historic Albany Foundation in June.


Papers from the 1988 conference published as Roadside America: The Automobile in Design and Culture, edited by Jan Jennings; fall “Highways to History” conference held in Pittsburgh to commemorate 50th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Turnpike; SCA has 600 members.


Big “D” SCA conference Dallas, TX, Iowa State University’s College of Design holds Lincoln Highway Corridor: Design to Construction of the Roadside Landscape conference, co-sponsored by SCA.


SCA board attends a tour of the Dixie Highway in Kentucky. Highlights included a visit to Harland Sanders’ Cafe and Museum and an overnight stop at Wigwam. A conference is planned for Los Angeles but canceled due to the riots in the city.


Newly re-established Lincoln Highway Association awards SCA its first annual Meritorious Achievement Award at the former’s charter conference in Bedford, PA; “Delaware Valley Diner Tour” held in June; premiere issue of quarterly SCA News (SCA’s Newsjournal is split into two publications – SCA Journal and SCA News.)


“Granite Faces and Concrete Critters: Automobile Tourism in the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota” SCA conference, in the fall.


More than 800 attendees at multi-track, SCA co-sponsored Preserving the Recent Past international conference held in Chicago; second edition of SCA bibliography, Mike Jackson compiler, published in conjunction with conference.


“Life in the Past Lane” SCA conference, Los Angeles, CA.
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20th anniversary of SCA celebrated at “Fins Family Fun & the Fabulous ’50s” SCA conference in Wildwood, NJ.


“Driving the Dixie: Automobile Tourism in the South” SCA conference, Chattanooga, TN.


“Made in Ohio: Enameled Eateries, Durable Domiciles and Fast Food” SCA conference, Columbus, OH.


“Cool Colorado: Automobile Culture in the Rocky Mountain West” SCA conference, Manitou Springs, CO.


“Cars and Crossroads: Touring America’s Heartland” SCA conference, Indianapolis, IN; establishment of SCA home office at the Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH.


“Reno or Bust: Sin and the American Roadside” held in Reno, Nevada, September.


“See You in Seattle: Roadside Culture in the Space Age” held in Seattle, Washington. The newsletter’s name is changed to Road Notes.


“Southwest Detours” SCA conference held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, September.


“Odessey in the Ozarks” SCA conference held in Fayetteville, Arkansas, October.


“South Jersey Diner Tour and More” began in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, September.


35th anniversary of SCA celebrated at “Wildwood Daze” conference in Wildwood, New Jersey, September.


“Fun in the Sunshine City” SCA conference held in St. Petersburg, Florida, April.


“North Jersey Diner Tour and More” held in the NYC Jersey suburbs with a side trip into New York. SCA holds affinity session at the National Preservation Conference in Washington, DC.


We celebrated our 40th anniversary with a conference and roadside tour in Cincinnati.


SCA members and guests traveled to the Philadelphia area for a terrifyingly terrific 2018 tour! We joined the crowd at Blobfest, an annual festival commemorating the original 1958 camp classic, THE BLOB. We then headed west along the historic Lincoln Highway through Amish Country to the quirky Haines Shoe House. Our weekend wrapped up with a special SCA-exclusive tour of Philly’s best commercial architecture. 2018 also gave us a hard hat tour of the new TWA Hotel at NYC’s JFK airport.


SCA began the year by hosting a session at the Preserving the Recent Past 3 conference in Los Angeles. We also started hosting smaller pop-up tours, beginning with Albany, NY, Philadelphia’s Broad St., and NYC’s Upper East Side. Our 42nd annual conference, “Wacky Wisconsin,” was hosted in the Wisconsin Dells, with visits to Milwaukee and the surrounding countryside, including a host of Frank Lloyd Wright sites.


The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to in-person events, but SCA transitioned smoothly to monthly virtual presentations from board members and roadside lovers nationwide. This year’s presentations included There’s Art in Them Thar Revetments (Bill Swislow), Upper East Side Tour (Michael Hirsch & Thomas Rinaldi), Tim O’Brien’s Roadside Pics & Picks, Casa Grande Neon Sign Park (Marge Jantz), Neon Museum of Philadelphia (Len Davidson), Blue Highways: Where Cars and Trucks are Passengers (Christine Henry), From Mesmerizing Mermaids to Water-Skiing Elephants (Rick Kilby), and Holiday on the Roadside (Mary Ann Michna, Michael Hirsch, Nichole Christine Edwards).