LYNN, SHOULD WE KEEP THE LIGHTS ON?

Vintage “Egg O Mat” sign in Lynn. This sign has been taken down and others are to follow. (Owen O’Rourke)

LYNN — After more than five years of Beyond Walls neon-art installations lighting up the city, many are coming down, as the foreclosed buildings that hosted them are being bought.

One of the first to come down was the Egg O Mat sign, which hung above a building on Washington Street.

“We hung them strategically in the downtown areas that residents and the business community said needed additional lighting,” Beyond Walls CEO and founder Al Wilson said.

The neon signs were originally only supposed to be up for three years, but Beyond Walls got an extension. There were 12 neon signs in total.

“Based on community meetings and the feedback from residents and business owners, the public wants more public art and more light on underpasses and on the sidewalks to increase walkability,” Wilson told The Item in 2018. “Ideally, it will make downtown safer and improve commerce at mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, and cafes.”

That article said the installations “included a blue, yellow, and gray Carroll’s Typewriter Exchange sign, Toys Stationery Sporting Goods in navy blue and white, and Elm Restaurant on Munroe Street.” At Washington and Oxford streets, the Egg O Mat sign recalled the coin-operated refrigerated device with a revolving carousel that dispensed eggs. Others included a Lad & Lassie, Joe’s Shoe Service, and a massive Poultry and Fish sign near the Lynn Museum.

These are more than just signs, Wilson said, they are works of art that also brought light to the city. In addition to the Egg O Mat, he said others are also set to be taken down.

“There’s a desire to light up additional areas of the downtown, including on Union Street,” Wilson said.

When they come down, the signs are being put into storage. Beyond Walls is now trying to figure out what to do with them and where they should be hung back up.

Businesses have said having the signs hung on Union Street would be beneficial, Wilson said.

“People love the neon, they love the vintage neon and old signs,” Wilson said. “What should Beyond Walls do with the signs? Do they serve a community need? Does the community desire having these up?”

Beyond Walls is asking for the community’s input. If Item readers have ideas of where the signs should go, email news@itemlive.com.

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