STAMFORD, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Las Vegas marquee greets you as you enter the city that never sleeps. In Stamford, the town had something similar, but the historic marquee was removed in the early 1990’s. However, the Downtown Stamford staple will be coming back to its original home soon.

Stamford, Texas prides itself on its deep historic roots; from the cowboy traditions at the Texas Cowboy Reunion to the years of Bulldog success on the gridiron.

However, the thing that greets you as you come into town on North Swenson and West McHarg Streets isn’t quite the same as it once was.

“When I come through the intersection, I look to see if there’s any announcements, but it’s been nonoperative for several months now,” lifelong Stamford resident and City Manager, Alan Plumlee said.

The original Stamford marquee is not there these days. In its heyday, it was a large red sign, gradually fading to yellow with large white letters spelling out, ‘Welcome Stamford.’ It also displayed long slide-out panels that would hold messages and town announcements.

The marquee called the intersection of Swenson and McHarg Streets home for more than 30 years, before being removed in the early ’90s, and replaced by the current sign – topped with ‘Texas Cowboy Reunion’ and a scrolling message board.

The old Stamford marquee was transported about a mile from the square, left leaning against a large pile of concrete pillars with rebar sticking out both ends. For 30 years, the sign has been hit with rain, radiating heat and snow, rusting away in a junk pile.

Original Stamford marquee, courtesy of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce.

The ‘Welcome Stamford’ marquee was the pride of Downtown Stamford during some of the town’s busiest decades from the 1960s to the ’80s, with the famous rotary phone booth which sat just beneath it. It held a special place in residents’ hearts, especially Plumlee, who said he would spend days in high school changing the wording on the announcement board with his friends.

“I remember the old marquee and times whenever we had to come up and would put the letters up on the marquee,” Plumlee looked back. “You’d lay everything out and make sure it was spaced right, then come back and hope it was spelled – all spelled right and put it up on the marquee.” 

Plumlee told KTAB/KRBC he remembers always having another set of eyes, as a personal spell checker of sorts, present before sliding the long, white panel back into the marquee.

Just when the sign was taken down, it took all of the memories attached to it, as well.

But just months ago, the scrolling message board went out on the current marquee, leaving President of the Stamford Chamber, Jessica Vaughan and her team to revisit the old marquee once again.

It was rusty, the painted white letters were fading, and the shards of the broken sliding panels were all that was left lying beside the large sign when they arrived. Vaughan said she initially had little hope it was intact enough to restore.

However, after further inspection, it was good to be refurbished. A crew came, threw straps around the historic sign, and slowly lifted it from the rubble, careful to not further damage the sign. Slowly letting it down onto the back of a flatbed trailer, it was ready for its journey to Dallas where it would further receive refurbishments.

“It’s going to look really cool and hopefully be a really unique piece that will be a new cornerstone for the square for decades to come,” Vaughan said in optimism.

Initial design on refurbished Stamford marquee, courtesy of the Stamford Chamber of Commerce

The body of the new sign will be completely original, and while the ‘Welcome Stamford’ phrase will remain the same, they will be raised white letters with backlights – much different than the single lightbar that illuminated the sign for many years before.

The sign will feature bulldog blue as the main color with a large video board, truly following the Chambers’ slogan of the ‘Old West meeting the Modern Frontier.’

While the sign will look different, much more modern and sleeker, those memories will find their home once again, greeting guests to Downtown Stamford for the foreseeable future.

However, a project of this size does come with a cost, roughly $65,000 to $75,000. Three businesses came together to donate $60,000 upfront, but the City of Stamford is still looking for some financial help.

You can click here to find more information on the Stamford marquee project, as well as instructions on how to donate.

Vaughan said he hopes the marquee can be back in its permanent home before this Christmas.