Wednesday, May 02, 2012

City Signs and Symbols

We had a great meeting late yesterday involving a dozen talented and engaged people to talk about launching the new Design Division of Chariton Area Chamber/Main Street and got right to work discussing the design of a logo that will represent the organization when it launches officially July 1.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well --- maybe not.

What we need is something simple that is well designed, visually pleasing, legible and instantly recognizable. There are five words in the the organization's name, and that's quite a chunk. "Chamber" and "Main Street" need to be roughly the same size, or so it seems, to symbolize partnership of old and new. And because the organizational mission will be carried out within the context of historic preservation, a building, a group of buildings, architectural detail --- something like that probably should be included.

Obviously "Chariton" needs to be weighty and "Area" is important, too, because that indicates the organization is interested in the welfare of a region that isn't bounded by city limits. 

It should be obvious when all is said and done why the logo looks like it does --- a half-page written explanation shouldn't be necssary. Interesting ...

The Lucas County Courthouse came to mind as an obvious symbolic choice --- but by no means the only possibility. So we took a little walking tour of the square to look for other ideas --- and to just look carefully at some of Chariton's built heritage. When you do something like that as a group, its interesting to discover how often we see something, but really don't look at it.

It had become clear as we talked about it that Chariton City Hall probably dosn't get the kind of attention it deserves, so we walked down a half block off the square to take a look at it. The building is kind of unique among cities of Chariton's size because it was designed by a talented architect --- our own William L. Perkins --- to make an optimistic and elegant statement about the community.

Perkins, intimately involved in city government because he also served as designer and chief engineer of many utility and improvement projects, may have insisted that the building make a strong statement. It would have been interesting to sit in on debates about it. I'll bet some argued there was no need to invest quite so much money in architectural frills when the purpose was practical --- to decently house city offices, city police and the fire department.

City Hall was built to Perkins' design in the early 1930s and has been very well taken care of, although modified. If you look at a photo of it taken soon after it was built, you'll notice the fire department was housed to the left of the front entrance. When new quarters for the department were added to the south, the door was infilled harmoniously to front city offices and city council chambers.

There also was a fairly dramatic urn made of undetermined material --- looks like bronze --- perched high above the entrance. When that was taken down and where it went aren't known.

The other element at City Hall that's kind of inconically Chariton is the old water tower, preserved, conserved and still towering over everything --- and stil providing water to a good portion of the city. It's an interesting and symbolic combination.

I'm not sure taking a good look at City Hall advanced the logo process, but it was worthwhile. If you've not really looked at that fine old building lately, do so the next time you're in the neighborhood.


It's pouring down rain right now, which does not bode well for city-wide cleanup day. Although --- the forecast probablity of thunderstorms during the day is only 50 percent.

Oh well, at least rain shouldn't discourage work in the museum barn. The grounds, if they aren't dealt with today, will still be there when the sun does come out.

1 comment:

JB said...

How about a logo contest. That way more people would feel they are a part of the project? It would also give you more publicity!