Not far from The O'Rourke is another Fôrt +Hōm property known as The Kenwood. Built in 1902 and originally called "The Kenwood Hotel," the street-level was home to commercial space while the building’s upper floors served as a boarding house. The Butte Daily Miner Newspaper later called the building home in the 1930s.
The Kenwood present day.
Over time, as Butte evolved and the bustle from mining declined, The Kenwood sat vacant for decades. In the 1980s, a fire destroyed the roof and caused interior damage to the space. It wasn't until the late '90s that The Kenwood was purchased and rehabilitated (a project that took two years). These efforts by the new owner included "saving" the street sign.
Exterior signage says a lot about the building— aside from an obvious form of identification, it presents character and style. It incites interest and intrigue from locals and passerby. An illuminated sign adds an element of fancy, making it a sight on the street where it hangs, or a beacon when the night draws to an end.
The original sign outside of the building was red with white neon letters. During the renovations, the building’s new owner wanted to get rid of the sign completely. Luckily his colleagues were able to convince him otherwise, and the sign was instead re-fabricated into the green and yellow it is today.
Here the current sign for The Kenwood sits waiting to be revived.
Several years later, the company that fixed the building and briefly called it home grew too big for its walls and moved out. The lights turned off, the doors locked and the sign stopped glowing along Broadway. When Fôrt +Hōm purchased the building in late 2018, the sign no longer worked, either running out of neon gas or somehow breaking otherwise.
The most economical and cost effective solve for bringing the sign back to its functioning state was to use LED-neon flexible light ropes. Available in a variety of colors and flexible for easy manipulation, this option creates a neon-sign look without the neon sign maintenance. Although this may sound easy, the process required a lot of patience and thoughtfulness when handling the delicate rope.
From left to right: A close-up of the LED light rope; the rope and sign; a moment of the sign mid re-illumination.
The Fôrt and Hōm team carefully traced the existing glass tubular with the LED rope around each letter fastening it every few inches using wire. This allowed the LED rope to mimic the fluid, single-stroke lettering style of a traditional neon sign. Now the sign is back up, plugged in and the street is illuminated by The Kenwood once again.
Watch our YouTube video to check out the man lift, sign removal and rehanging.
The Kenwood sign illuminates uptown Butte again.
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