Portsmouth, Where My Obsession Began

The first time that I remember noticing what I call “Sculptural Signs” was when I visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire many years ago.

Portsmouth is a city of about 26,000 people that was founded back in 1623. It has one of a declining number of active naval yards in our country. From many of the parks, pubs and back alleys, you are very aware of the local maritime economy.

…and as you stroll the streets, it’s hard not to notice the great collection of sculptural signs…

Me & Ollie’s sign indicates that this bakery and sandwich shop must produce heavenly loaves.


Bardwell, I hope that Sakura’s sign is an inspiration to you on several levels.


The sign for 43 Degrees North is one of the most complex examples of the scuptural sign that I’ve ever seen.


This one always catches the eyes of the younger crowd.


There’s an oblique reference to Strawberry Banke, the colonial beginnings of Portsmouth, in this sign.


Notice the hand holding the book on the sign beam for the News Shop.


Here’s the sign that started it all for me…and I’ve been trying to sell Joe Grundhoefer on this one for a couple of years.


I believe that not only will these sculptural signs add to the vitality of our downtown streetscape, it will also add to our reputation as one of the finest pedestrian-friendly, history-rich shopping experiences in the region. It might even help us get recognized as an Art Town.