SHELBY - 1959 - that’s the year the O’Haire Manor sign was built and came to Shelby. The city recently acquired it so they can renovate and restore the 80-foot sign.
The O’Haire Manor motel sign has been an iconic symbol of Shelby’s Main Street. The city recently acquired it to begin restoring the local treasure and to address health and safety issues. After not getting awarded funding to renovate it, the city is now fundraising through private support.
“Sadly, the O’Haire Manor closed several years ago and of course with that the sign was left in pretty poor shape. We received well over 150 responses. The vast majority was save the sign, keep the sign, do whatever it takes to keep that sign it’s iconic, it’s part of Shelby’s history," Shelby spokesperson Lorette Carter explained. "To date, we have over $5,000 in just the first week and a half and so the community has been very supportive of the effort to take care of that sign.”
The first step of their plan is to cap the top of the sign and remove all the pigeon droppings and roosting material it has accrued. After that, they will rearrange and renovate the sign to have it read "Shelby" instead of "motel."
The total cost is likely to be between $24,000 and $30,000, according to mayor Gary McDermott, but the city is optimistic they’ll have the sign looking better than ever soon.
“We had some complaints about the maintenance about the sign. And the fact that pigeons were roosting in the sign. The bid to remove it was about as much as it would take to renovate it. I think another question was whether people would be interested in helping with that renovation and they said they were,” McDermott said. “It’s kind of an icon. We had an overwhelming response saying we should try and save the sign.”
Carter provided the following information:
Originally, the city applied for funding from the Montana History Foundation to renovate the sign. Unfortunately, the city was not awarded funding, but instead we have initiated a campaign to finance the restoration of the sign through private support. The RESTORE THE SIGN campaign has begun with different donor levels. The BRONZE level is for contributions up to $999; SILVER level ~ $1,000 to $4,999 and GOLD level ~ $5,000 and up! A unique plaque will also be created in honor of all the donors.
Anyone wishing to contribute can send their check to the City of Shelby at 112 1st St. So., Shelby, MT 59474 and earmark it as – RESTORE THE SIGN campaign. The cost to restore the tower portion of the sign is approximately $24,000.00. Your contributions will be greatly appreciated as we bring the iconic sign back to life!
For more info about the fundraiser, you can message the city on Facebook or call their office at 406-434-5222.