Community discussions are under way to try to help re-light the iconic Paul Revere horserider sign atop the Revere Copper Products building that has not shone for about 10 years — but details including funding sources are unclear at this early stage.
The initiative was mentioned by Board of Education member Louis Daniello at a board meeting this week. He said "a committee has been formed" with discussions involving "different local organizations" regarding hopes to "re-light the Revere sign." The once widely visible landmark on the Rome horizon dates back over 50 years.
Daniello, who suggested that the school district could participate perhaps as a learning opportunity for students, mentioned interest by the East Rome Memories group with which he is involved, plus the City of Rome including representatives from its Community and Economic Development office. District Superintendent Jeffrey P. Simons said "I see opportunities" for students and teachers in learning more "local history" about a manufacturing company. The district could "encourage kids and staff to participate," he said, but added that the district would not incur any expenses in such a project.
Seeking grants could be among possible funding options for the project, said Daniello. He cited repair issues among considerations for reviving the sign. The neon image that blazed for the Revere rider and horse dates back to 1951, while the portion beneath it with the "Revere Copper-Brass" lettering was built in 1936.
The sign is still owned by the Revere company. Revere Copper Products President and CEO Michael O’Shaughnessy said the matter is early in the process, and would not comment.
City Community and Economic Development Director Diane Shoemaker could not be reached.
The sign is "certainly something that many of us remember as were growing up in Rome," said Rome Area Chamber of Commerce President William Guglielmo. Over the years, he said, "I’ve heard individuals say they always knew they were back in Rome when they saw the...Revere sign." It has been a symbol of Rome’s heritage, and of a "strong company" and the city’s history that included its "industrial prominence," he added.
Asked whether the chamber was involved in trying to help get the sign re-lit, Guglielmo said the chamber has "not taken on this as a project." He said he would defer to Revere as the owner regarding any comments about the sign’s future.
The Revere company was founded by American patriot and entrepreneur Paul Revere in Massachusetts in 1801. It has been based in Rome since 1928. The sign, which brings to mind Paul Revere’s famous "midnight ride" in 1775 to warn of an impending advance by British soldiers, was developed in its 1936 and 1951 portions with train-travelers in mind during the decades when rail passenger travel domainated the then-four track line of the New York Central System. The best view of the south-facing sign was from tracks that approached Rome, while motorists could glimpse it from the arterial coming into the city from the Route 365/49 junction or inbound on Route 233 at Stanwix Heights.
The horse and rider measure 18 1/2 feet high and 42 feet, 5 inches long, while the company lettering stretches 155 feet. An on/off lighting cycle in the horse’s legs created the image of motion, as though it were galloping. A Daily Sentinel article in 2000 estimated that if the striding neon hoofs were real and reached the ground, the horse and rider would have traveled about 11,340,700 miles; the estimate was based on calculations involving the length of the on/off cycle and that the sign had been switched on for an average of 12 hours per day for 49 years.