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St. Louis History Highlighted in Old Signs Exhibition

Posted on June 04, 2019 in Art Media Releases

They’ve defined the entrances to theaters, hotels, diners, doughnut shops and record stores for decades. The signs are iconic St. Louis treasures in themselves, standing tall against the more prolific modern signage that dots our street landscapes.

St. Louis photographer Dave Adams has captured the historic signs in his new exhibition, “Old Signs of St. Louis” now on display at St. Louis Lambert International Airport in Terminal 2 near gate E18.  The 14-image exhibition captures signs that are still standing and others that have since faded away into history.

“These once-ubiquitous signs of yesteryear are becoming scarce, and I want to photograph as many as I can before they are all gone,” said Dave Adams. “I am always delighted to come across another one because they add a touch of nostalgia, and sometimes a touch of class, to our modern existence.”

The exhibition features signs and buildings that St. Louis residents will instantly recognize, including the famous Vess lemon lime bottle, the Tivoli movie theater on the Delmar Loop, and the Fabulous Fox Theatre. But Adams’ eye also captured more quaint signs that might escape the everyday eye, such as signs at the Old Dutch Hotel, Lester’s Music Store & Studios, and Patke’s Dairy. And there is an image of the key-shaped sign that simply says “Keys” from a storefront in the Fountain Park neighborhood of St. Louis.

“As a child I remember seeing old buildings and thinking, ‘Why they don’t they tear them down and build something new?’” says Adams, who is an active member of Photo Flood Saint Louis, a group of photographers that explores and documents St. Louis neighborhoods through photography. “Now I still love technology but I have a new-found respect for the past. I explore old neighborhoods with my photographer friends, where we seek and find beauty even in the urban decay I once disdained.” 

Old Signs of St. Louis, on display through December, is part of the Lambert Art & Culture Program’s temporary exhibitions program. The program is supported by the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis.

Dave Adams was chosen to exhibit in the Lambert Art & Culture Program through the Airport’s seven-member Airport Art Advisory Committee. Current members are Lisa Cakmak, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum; Ellen Gale, Executive Director Clayton Chamber of Commerce; Shelley Hagen; Leslie Markle, Curator of Public Art, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Kiku Obata, Founding Principal of Kiku Obata & Co.; Roseann Weiss, consultant with ART+; and design artist and illustrator Carlos Zamora. 

The Lambert Art and Culture Program builds upon the culturally rich legacy of St. Louis Lambert International Airport. Our mission is to elevate the visitor experience and uplift regional pride through the presentation of artwork created by local, national, and international artists. Currently, there are 29 works of art or collections of art (temporary, permanent or on-loan) on view at the Airport. For more information, visit






Stl Dave Adams Old Signsof St Louis Exhibition Viewers 6X4X300
"Old Signs of St. Louis", a photography exhibit by Dave Adams at STL Airport near gate E18 in Terminal 2.
10 Patkes
Patke's Dairy, by Dave Adams.
13 Red Cedar Inn
Red Cedar Inn, by Dave Adams
14 Doughnuts
Fresh Doughnut Drive-In, by Dave Adams
3 Spencers
Spencer's Grill, by Dave Adams
6 Keys
Keys, by Dave Adams
9 Lesters
Lester's, by Dave Adams