As many of you probably already know the General Electric Meter plant on Main street was sold at the end of last year to Aclara, a company that also manufactures meters. Part of that sale requires that all materials belonging or connected to General Electric be removed from the building. The biggest of those connections was obviously the sign that until Saturday morning sat atop the 1920’s building that was originally built by the Great Falls Manufacturing Company of Somersworth.
I decided to to do a little research into the sign on Sunday while I was at the Summersworth Historical Museum and the information I found I’ll share below:
According to the GE News and The Somersworth Free Press the sign was installed in 1956. The Donnelly Advertising company of Boston had the contract for the job. The sign itself was light on November 12th 1956 as part of the plants tenth anniversary celebrations. Until that point, the only thing that signified it even was a plant, was a small emblem on the building.The sign itself contained letters that are six feet high, with the monogram measuring 12 feet and it’s overall length was 96 feet.
Like many I’ve never seen the sign lighted but I’ve talked to many residents who grew up in Somersworth and heard the tales of how bright the sign actually was as it cast a red glow across Main street. Now it’s a sight that I shall never be able to see. According to an article in the Free Press a photo-electric cell was employed to turn the sign on at dusk each evening.
A Sad Day.
A small group of us gathered on Main street to watch as what had made up a large part of Somersworth’s proud past was removed. The spectators included several employees and representatives from the plants new owners. It took about 3 hours to take the sign, which was in three pieces, down.
First to come down was the monogram. As it dangled high above us and began it’s seemingly long decent to the ground it was a nostalgic moment for many. The good news is that the monogram is going to be refurbished and sent to General Electrics management training facility in Crotonville, New York. As part of that facility they have a museum where, once restored, the sign that for sixty years has been as much a part of Somersworth will once more shine.
As the last piece of the sign came down, and was dismantled ready to be transported on the awaiting flat bed, it really did feel strange looking up and no longer seeing the sign. I asked if Alclara will be replacing it with anything and was informed that unfortunately due to city sign ordinances this was highly unlikely. Instead a small lighted sign was being made to represented the new company and once ready would replace the smaller GE Energy sign that sits to one side of the front of the building right now.
So although Saturday I witnessed what felt like the end of one era of our proud past, I look forward to a bright future for Somersworth in conjunction with Alclara. As always I would love to hear your memories of the sign and especially from those who recall it when it was light.
I will leave you with this video of the monogram being removed from a spot it has occupied for the past sixty years. It still has a place in many of Somersworth residents hearts and memories and they will always remain.