ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — A sign that had been a landmark in the town of Orange for decades is now trash in a dumpster. Taking down the “Firelite Shopping Center” sign was part of a construction project that was approved months ago, but the removal still came as a shock to many.
A building that now houses a liquor store and a nail salon used to be the Firelight showroom.
“They were the first company to actually produce brass fire fixtures,” said Todd Green, the grandson of one of the founders of Firelite. His family opened the showroom on Old Tavern Road in 1956. That showroom had a sign you could see for blocks, but after more than 60 years, it just came down.
“It’s a shame that the sign is no longer here because it was kind of their legacy,” Green said.
Cherry Hill Construction is building a new plaza and apartments on the site, but removing the sign took some by surprise.
“It sure meant a lot to the people of Orange, having that sign there,” said Orange native Jennifer Stein. She is one of the dozens venting their feelings on social media. “I think it was badly handled. I think the ball got dropped all around. Everybody dropped the ball.”
Dan Baughman, project manager for Cherry Hill Construction, tells News 8 that a couple of years ago, they put in wiring from the old Firelite building to the sign with the hopes of lighting it up again. When plans changed for the entryway and landscaping, it became clear the sign would be in the way of trucks coming in and turning around. So, the plans they filed with the town called for the sign to be removed, and the town approved the plans.
First Selectman James Zeoli said Cherry Hill asked him about it once.
“I think they had that discussion when they came for their permits,” Zeoli said in a phone interview. “I saw someone from Cherry Hill out in the parking lot and they said, “We’re going to take this down, does anybody want it?'”
Zeoli said he did not think there was any place to put the sign. Ginny Reinhard, president of the Orange Historical Society, says they would have found a place. It’s what they do.
“I think the people would have rallied around it and there would have been a GoFundMe of all those people to keep that sign somewhere,” Reinhard said.
Reinhard blames a lack of communication. Green says it was tough seeing the family sign come down.
“This sign, between the location and how long it’s been here and everything, it just really kind of blows me away that it’s not here anymore,” Green said.
Cherry Hill’s Baughman says the new building may incorporate design elements inspired by the sign.