Isn't it great to have that big old Hotel Charitone sign, newly restored and home from Burlington, back in its rightful place on the northeast corner of the square?
I'd known it was coming in this week, but if it hadn't been for Martin, who tracked me down at the museum Thursday morning and told me it was time to get uptown, I'd have missed the whole thing. Thanks!
As Ruth, Ray and others have pointed out elsewhere, an official relighting is planned for Nov. 29, just before the lighted Christmas parade around the square begins. As nearly as anyone can figure out, it's been more than 50 years. Keeping the sign repaired and lighted was not a high priority as the Charitone declined.
The sign came down during late September a year ago when restoration of the hotel moved into high gear and it's interesting to compare these two photos --- as the building looks now, above, as the project nears completion, and then, below.
Here's the Thursday morning sequence:
The sign isn't the only item moved into place recently at the Charitone. If you go around back, to what will become the tenant parking lot and site of a new ADA-compliant entrance, you'll see that the giant prefabricated fire escape also has been installed and now awaits bridges and railing.
This is not your granddad's fire escape and nothing at all like the rickety iron setup it replaces. I've been up and down these exterior staircases at both the restored Masonic Building in Osceola and Crane Building Artist Lofts in Des Moines. They're amazing.
It won't be that long either before work on the upper level housing project begins on the square. Six of the 10 new apartments will be in currently vacant second floors on the northeast corner of the square, too --- two in the Piper's building at left and four in Betty Hansen's double-front on the right. Those blinded windows on Betty's second floor will be reopened. When these projects are combined with the Charitone, due to be occupied in January, this corner of the square is going to be a sight to behold.