Famous sign skirmish ends with compromise

Famous sign skirmish ends with compromise »Play Video
Officials unveiled a rendering of what the 'Made in Oregon' sign would look like under a compromise reached between the University of Oregon and the city of Portland.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A compromise has been reached in the battle over Portland's historic 'Made in Oregon' sign.

It appears the words 'Made In' will be dropped, leaving the sign with the word 'Oregon.' The 'Old Town' label at the bottom of the sign will remain.

The idea was unveiled at Wednesday's City Council meeting after lengthy negotiations. Under the plan, the University of Oregon will retain ownership of the sign, and the city will drop the idea of taking over the sign by declaring eminent domain and paying $500,000 for it.

Part of the compromise solution also involves allowing the university to advertise its name in big neon letters on the nearby "Old Town" water tower, according to Darryl Paulsen, president of Ramsay Signs, the current owner of the sign. KATU is working to confirm that with city officials.

The sign controversy has been brewing for months. The University of Oregon, owner of the downtown Portland building upon which the sign sits, wanted to change the sign to advertise its name. But many protested that move, saying the sign should be protected as a historic landmark.

When built in 1940, it read "White Satin" for a sugar company. In 1957, it was changed to "White Stag" for a clothing company. In 1995, it was changed to "Made in Oregon" for a retail chain.

The sign is shaped like the outline of the state, and it is notable for its leaping deer — with a red nose during the holidays. It also proclaims the city's "Old Town" district.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard wanted the sign to be changed to 'Portland Oregon - City of Roses' and pushed the idea of taking ownership of it through condemnation, which critics called a waste of time and money.

Leonard said Wednesday he hopes the sign will never change again following the compromise.

The Historic Landmark Commission still has to sign off on the changes.