Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Biltmore Tourist Court

Five days a week, for the 5 years that I've worked here, I drive past a large metal sign for the Biltmore Tourist Court twice a day:


The tourist court itself is long-closed, and completely fenced off. From what I've glimpsed through the fence over the years, it's a collection of small cottages/bungalows, but it has fallen well into ruin. Regardless of that, the sign is an iconic feature on one of the major roads through the city of Knoxville, so much so that the local paper included it in their gallery of iconic signs last year.

It's a fixture, at least to me, even if the condition made me put it in my Sad Signs Collection back when my friend Justin suggested that I make such a collection, so I was caught completely off guard on my way home yesterday when I drove past and the sign was gone!

biltmore sign frame

It was there in the morning, but in the afternoon all that was left was the frame. I'm not having an existential moment about it or anything, like, "Oh my God, I have mortality! Someday someone will drive past on their way to work and I won't be here, either!" but it is a little bit of a loss when the familiar becomes less so, and when your drive to and from work becomes a shade less interesting.

On the other hand, thinking about the bare frame reminded me of that photography project I tried last February with the old pictures laid on top of the newer ones. The frame suggested an outline of the past, and I had a pretty good picture of the sign, so today on the way home I decided that I would stop and see what I came up with:

former biltmore tourist court

I'm pretty happy with that. The sign may have been ripped apart and sold for scrap metal, but it left me with a pretty decent photograph, and I think that's ok.


Anonymous said...

I am often sadden when "the Old" is gone. I am glad you have pictures so it can forever be a part of history

Anonymous said...

Sometimes these neon signs are very collectible. There's a possibility it was removed and sold to someone who might appreciate it, maybe...? Any news about it in your local paper?

JMBower said...

fantastic shots as usual. I hate to see an old icon go, but to be honest, as sad signs go, it's amazing more sad now stripped down to its frame. It's not even a full sign...it's a sign that is trying hard to be a sign, but ultimately failing. That's about as sad as signs get.

stanford said...

Clever and poignant, Joel.


Heritage said...

The sign was taken apart but preserved. It was, fortunately, rescued before it was to ve scrapped (which amazingly was the plan) and belongs to an individual who preserves old signs so they don't end up in the trash.Just wanted you to know.