Ortwein Sign adds iconic neon sign to historic Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex
By Ted Neelands
The Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex on the south side of Chattanooga, TN features a historic train station that has been converted into a world-class hotel, restaurants and performance venues. Recently, it became the new home to Songbirds – part guitar museum, part exhibit/event area and part professional band room in which you can be a rock star for the day. “The Vault” at Songbirds also contains “without a doubt … the most premiere and complete [guitar] collection in the world,” said David Davidson, general partner with We Buy Guitars in New York City. “With what is happening at the Choo-Choo and its history and the exciting things happening in Chattanooga, we felt like this was the perfect place and we want to be a part of the future.” And We Buy Guitars weren’t the only ones who wanted to be involved.
Colleen Teal, president of Ortwein Sign Company (Chattanooga, TN), worked with the Songbirds’ owners to develop the exterior branding for this one-of-a-kind project. Colleen thought a very large, very cool sign could possibly become as iconic as the Chattanooga Choo-Choo landmark sign that has been around for decades. “This 45-ft.-long, all-neon masterpiece will certainly catch the attention of and make a memorable impression on the local community, as well as the many tourists who visit Chattanooga yearly,” Colleen said, and she’s had experience with the Chattanooga Choo-Choo complex. She spearheaded Ortwein Sign’s re-image of the Choo-Choo earlier this year and signage for “Stir,” a new restaurant there (see ST, May 2016, page 60).
If guitars had wings
The owners wanted highly visible and dramatic signage to draw tourists and everyday locals to their new space on the backside of the Choo-Choo complex. Ortwein Sign proposed two 8- x 13-ft., 4-in. wall-mounted, projecting, exposed neon “winged guitar” signs and a 10-ft., 6-in. x 44-ft., 6-in. exposed neon, main ID roof-mounted “Songbirds” sign.
Once Songbirds’ ownership approved the design and permits were approved by the City of Chattanooga, our design and engineering department used CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, EnRoute and Graphtec’s Cutting Master 3 plug-in to produce the pattern, router, vinyl cut and print files for the various production departments’ equipment.
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