I always seem to notice the signs and architecture of dry cleaners, probably because they so often fall into the fabulous, future-of-the-past category of midcentury modern. I've seen numerous examples while driving around and more recently, biking around town, the latter of which leaves me neither dry nor clean.
I am making the following up because I didn't bother investigating, but from evidence available to the casual passerby today, dry cleaning boomed in the '50s and '60s, in some cases bolstered by a futuristic process called "Martinizing" that the cleaners liked to advertise in large loopy cursive lettering on their trapezoidal buildings.
This amoebic sign has a flashy retro design but is probably new.
But let's look at some other dry cleaners, some abandoned, some still operational, and some of course in that Baton Rouge category of "who the f knows?". In that occupied?/semi-operational category, we've got Government Street's Rome Cleaners, whose eternal sale on UNCLAIMED WEDDING G OWN S depresses the hell out of me.
I get the feeling that Rome has fallen. It's always that dark in there when I pass by. The sign in the photo below says the hours are Monday through
Thursday 9-4 and Saturday 9-12, but I just called the place at 3:45 on a Thursday
afternoon only to have a robot message answer. That sign below also
advises patrons to knock. How hard to you have to knock, I wonder, like
into the past when this place was still operational? Or is someone hanging out
in the back during those hours? (Someone besides the headless brides, that is?)
One dry cleaner that has definitely pressed its last shirt has already been covered on this blog here.
And then we have the Kean's empire. Here's a dramatic open one just up the street from Overpass Cleaners. Note the similarity of awning post shape on Kean's below to AAA pictured above.
And near the edge of the downtown area, here's another operational Kean's with elaborate antique sign.
A little further north, at Convention and North 19th streets, the second-ever location of Kean's.
The dry cleaning storefront portion of this location is abandoned.
Here's what this site looked like in 1932, eight years after Kean's moved from its original Government Street location, which was destroyed in a fire. Recognize that sign?
Here's that view now.
Wondering why I have an actual fact or two at the end of this post (as opposed to the usual wild speculation) not to mention an historical photograph? They come from the new book Baton Rouge, which contains more than 200 photos from 1850 through the present, along with fact-filled captions.
And that's where the contest comes in. When I first moved here a year ago, I was limited to the most local sites. But now that I have wheels and co-explorers, I'm ready to hit those farther-flung and riskier sites. I need suggestions! Whomever leaves the best suggestion in the comments of this post in the next ten days will get their own copy of Baton Rouge, just don't forget to leave your email address when commenting, so I can contact you about the prize.
(Hopefully it's obvious that these were not the thrilling sites I promised to visit in the last post. Those posts are still in the works.)
Historic photo reprinted with permission from Baton Rouge, by Faye Phillips and Sylvia Frank Rodrigue. Available from the publisher online at www.arcadiapublishing.com or by calling 888-313-2665.