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Helen 'The Swinging Girl' Neon Sign

https://search.heritageburnaby.ca/permalink/landmark591
Repository
Burnaby Heritage Planning
Civic Address
4142 Hastings Street
Description
Commercial building.
Associated Dates
1956
Formal Recognition
Heritage Designation, Community Heritage Register
Other Names
Helen's Childrens Wear Sign
Street View URL
Google Maps Street View
  3 Images  
Repository
Burnaby Heritage Planning
Other Names
Helen's Childrens Wear Sign
Civic Address
4142 Hastings Street
Associated Dates
1956
Formal Recognition
Heritage Designation, Community Heritage Register
Enactment Type
Bylaw No. 12771
Enactment Date
19/04/2010
Description
Commercial building.
Heritage Value
While the building here is of some importance as the former North Burnaby municipal office, its primary importance is its delightful neon sign that has become a North Burnaby landmark. Helen Arnold opened Helen’s Childrens Wear shop in the building next door to the old Municipal offices in 1948. In 1955, when North Burnaby moved out, she moved into the vacated building. As part of the renovations, Helen enlisted the assistance of her good friend Jimmy Wallace, owner of Vancouver’s Wallace Neon Company, to create a new sign for her expanded business. One of the company’s designers, Reeve Lehman, created the swinging neon girl that was installed in 1956. Designed in two parts, one section of the sign is cloud shaped and reads ‘Helen’s’ while the other section is a moving representation of a little girl on a swing. The sign is nine feet six inches high and nine feet wide, and the lower section is animated with an internal motor and gears. It immediately became a landmark on Hastings Street, and recently the sign’s design fame has spread far and wide as one of the best surviving examples of kinetic neon art in North America.
Locality
Vancouver Heights
Historic Neighbourhood
Vancouver Heights (Historic Neighbourhood)
Planning Study Area
Willingdon Heights Area
Community
Burnaby
Name Access
Helen's Childrens Wear
Subject Access
Buildings - Commercial - Restaurants
Geographic Access
Burnaby - 4142 Hastings Street
Street View URL
Google Maps Street View
Images
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.1
Description
Molded plaster baby sitting up holding glass shelf. The baby is seated on the floor and there is a slot across its chest and its hands are turned palm upwards to hold the glass shelf (11 cm. X 34.5 cm). The body is open at the bottom and the chest slot. The figure has painted brown hair, brown eyes…
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). They were handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Hele…
  1 Image  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.1
Description
Molded plaster baby sitting up holding glass shelf. The baby is seated on the floor and there is a slot across its chest and its hands are turned palm upwards to hold the glass shelf (11 cm. X 34.5 cm). The body is open at the bottom and the chest slot. The figure has painted brown hair, brown eyes and is wearing a white diaper. There are chips on the right big toe, at the edge of the chest slot, edge of hair on the right side, back of the head and ends of the fingers. No makers mark inside.
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). They were handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen Arnold opened the store on East Hastings Street in 1948. She moved to the 4142 Hastings Street location in 1955, and added a landmark neon sign to the building in 1956. The sign featured a girl on a swing, and served as an important landmark in the neighbourhood. The store closed in 2007.
Measurements
Overall measurements Lth 25.5 cm. Wth 25.5 cm. Ht 38 cm.
Subjects
Furniture
Furniture - Tables
Name Access
Helen's Childrens Wear
Record Type
Artifact
Images
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.2
Description
Molded plaster baby standing on all fours with a round glass shelf (30.5 cm diameter.) attached to the baby's backside. There are no openings. The figure has painted blonde hair, blue eyes and is wearing a white diaper. The finish is cracked in the top of the hair and the glass is cracked around th…
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). They were handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Hel…
  1 Image  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.2
Description
Molded plaster baby standing on all fours with a round glass shelf (30.5 cm diameter.) attached to the baby's backside. There are no openings. The figure has painted blonde hair, blue eyes and is wearing a white diaper. The finish is cracked in the top of the hair and the glass is cracked around the screw hole. There are no makers marks visible.
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). They were handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen Arnold opened the store on East Hastings Street in 1948. She moved to the 4142 Hastings Street location in 1955, and added a landmark neon sign to the building in 1956. The sign featured a girl on a swing, and served as an important landmark in the neighbourhood. The store closed in 2007.
Measurements
Overall measurements Lth. 35.5 cm. (without shelf) Wth. 24 cm. Ht 30 cm.
Subjects
Furniture
Furniture - Tables
Name Access
Helen's Childrens Wear
Record Type
Artifact
Images
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.3
Description
Molded plaster baby laying on its back with a round glass shelf (30.5 cm diameter.) secured to one raised foot. The glass shelf is broken in two pieces.The body of the figure is hollow and open at the back. The figure has painted brown hair, blue eyes and is wearing a white diaper. Inside the baby …
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). They were handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Hel…
  1 Image  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.3
Description
Molded plaster baby laying on its back with a round glass shelf (30.5 cm diameter.) secured to one raised foot. The glass shelf is broken in two pieces.The body of the figure is hollow and open at the back. The figure has painted brown hair, blue eyes and is wearing a white diaper. Inside the baby there are makers mark "NETTIE'S MFG. / VAN BC / CANADA" stamped in ink on inside of body. "FO 2" written in pencil on inside of body.
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). They were handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen Arnold opened the store on East Hastings Street in 1948. She moved to the 4142 Hastings Street location in 1955, and added a landmark neon sign to the building in 1956. The sign featured a girl on a swing, and served as an important landmark in the neighbourhood. The store closed in 2007.
Measurements
Overall measurements Lth 35 cm. Wth 23 cm. Ht 29.5 cm.
Subjects
Furniture
Furniture - Tables
Name Access
Helen's Childrens Wear
Record Type
Artifact
Images
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.4
Description
The stork's body is made of paper mache. It is painted white with a yellow beak and elaborate eyelashes. There is a pink ribbon in a slot in the beak. There was originally a balance scale held in the beak. The legs are wood painted yellow the feet are cast iron to make the figure stand. The body li…
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). It was handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen A…
  1 Image  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.4
Description
The stork's body is made of paper mache. It is painted white with a yellow beak and elaborate eyelashes. There is a pink ribbon in a slot in the beak. There was originally a balance scale held in the beak. The legs are wood painted yellow the feet are cast iron to make the figure stand. The body lifts off of the legs. There is no noticeable damage. There are no makers marks.
Object History
Made for Helen's Children's Wear in early 1950's by Nettie Trainer, the mother of the store owner, Helen Arnold (nee Trainer). It was handmade. Nettie Trainer was a well known maker of custom figures for commercial displays. Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen Arnold opened the store on East Hastings Street in 1948. She moved to the 4142 Hastings Street location in 1955, and added a landmark neon sign to the building in 1956. The sign featured a girl on a swing, and served as an important landmark in the neighbourhood. The store closed in 2007.
Measurements
Overall measurements Lth 75 cm. Wth 30 cm. Ht 136 cm.
Name Access
Helen's Childrens Wear
Record Type
Artifact
Images
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.5
Description
Invoices, five; pink paper, blue print; "Helens" "Helens CHILDREN'S WEAR Ltd." "A Department Store for Little People" "4142 E. HASTINGS STREET - NORTH BURNABY, B.C." "V5C 2J4"; at upper right, "Telephone 298-5141" "298-0715"; illustration of shop's neon sign at left, showing girl on swing; line for…
Object History
Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen Arnold opened the store on East Hastings Street in 1948. She moved to the 4142 Hastings Street location in 1955, and added a landmark neon sign to the building in 1956. The sign featured a girl on a swing, and served as an im…
  1 Image  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV007.9.5
Description
Invoices, five; pink paper, blue print; "Helens" "Helens CHILDREN'S WEAR Ltd." "A Department Store for Little People" "4142 E. HASTINGS STREET - NORTH BURNABY, B.C." "V5C 2J4"; at upper right, "Telephone 298-5141" "298-0715"; illustration of shop's neon sign at left, showing girl on swing; line for date; space for "TO:"; lower part is ruled, with columns for "DATE", "REFERENCE", "FOLIO", "DEBIT", "CREDIT", "BALANCE"; at bottom, "ACCOUNTS DUE...", and "PAY LAST AMOUNT IN THIS COLUMN"; 6.5 cm X 21.3 cm
Object History
Helen's Children's Wear was located at 4142 Hastings Street. Owner Helen Arnold opened the store on East Hastings Street in 1948. She moved to the 4142 Hastings Street location in 1955, and added a landmark neon sign to the building in 1956. The sign featured a girl on a swing, and served as an important landmark in the neighbourhood. The store closed in 2007.
Colour
pink
Title
Helens Children's Wear Ltd.
Subjects
Documentary Artifacts
Documentary Artifacts - Invoices
Name Access
Helen's Childrens Wear
Record Type
Artifact
Images
Less detail
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Date
October, 1976
Collection/Fonds
Burnaby Public Library Contemporary Visual Archive Project
Description Level
Item
Physical Description
1 photograph : b&w ; 11 x 16 cm mounted on cardboard
Item No.
556-541
Storage Location
A/V Storage
Scope and Content
Photograph shows shoppers walking down the 4100 Block of Hastings Street. The Helen's "swinging girl" sign can be seen in the background, along with numerous other signs advertising the businesses in the area.
  1 Image  
Repository
City of Burnaby Archives
Date
October, 1976
Collection/Fonds
Burnaby Public Library Contemporary Visual Archive Project
Description Level
Item
Item No.
556-541
Accession Number
2013-13
Storage Location
A/V Storage
Physical Description
1 photograph : b&w ; 11 x 16 cm mounted on cardboard
Media Type
Photograph
Access Restriction
No restrictions
Reproduction Restriction
May be restricted by third party rights
Scope and Content
Photograph shows shoppers walking down the 4100 Block of Hastings Street. The Helen's "swinging girl" sign can be seen in the background, along with numerous other signs advertising the businesses in the area.
Photographer
Cook, Alan
Subjects
Advertising Medium - Signs and Signboards
Names
Helen's Childrens Wear
Notes
Scope note taken directly from BPL photograph description.
1 b&w copy negative : 10 x 12.5 cm accompanying
Geographic Access
Burnaby - Hastings Street
Burnaby - 4100 Block Hastings Street
Historic Neighbourhood
Vancouver Heights (Historic Neighbourhood)
Planning Study Area
Willingdon Heights Area
Images
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Book
Burnaby's Heritage
Type
Book Chapter
Publication Date
2007
Notes
North Burnaby
HELEN'S CHILDRENS WEAR SIGN 4142 Hastings Street 1956 While the building here is of some importance os the former North Burnaby municipal office, its primary importance is its delightful neon sign that has become a North Burnaby landmark. Helen Arnold opened Helen's Childrens Wear shop in
  1 Digital Chapter  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Book
Burnaby's Heritage
Type
Book Chapter
Publication Date
2007
Notes
North Burnaby
Original Book
Catalogue record for source book
Digital Book
Less detail
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV016.18.2
Description
Eagle Ford neon sign. It is a large double-sided hollow sheet metal sign measuring 13.3 feet tall and 8.9 feet wide. The sheet metal and structure of the sign retains most of the eagle's original painted image, including the dramatic wings with their blue and white feather pattern.
Object History
Eagle Motors Limited was established by the well-known Burnaby businessman Frank McCracken at 4161 Hastings Street in 1948. The car dealership became a successful local Heights business and was the largest Ford car and truck retailer in the province during its operation. The company had adopted the…
  1 Image  
Repository
Burnaby Village Museum
Accession Code
BV016.18.2
Description
Eagle Ford neon sign. It is a large double-sided hollow sheet metal sign measuring 13.3 feet tall and 8.9 feet wide. The sheet metal and structure of the sign retains most of the eagle's original painted image, including the dramatic wings with their blue and white feather pattern.
Object History
Eagle Motors Limited was established by the well-known Burnaby businessman Frank McCracken at 4161 Hastings Street in 1948. The car dealership became a successful local Heights business and was the largest Ford car and truck retailer in the province during its operation. The company had adopted the silhouette of the classic Bald Eagle in full flight to serve as a logo which was utilized in advertising and promotional materials. The eagle symbol was famously developed into a classic chrome badge with the name "Eagle Ford - Burnaby, BC" that was installed on all the Eagle Ford cars and trucks sold by the dealership. After a new showroom building was constructed on the site in 1950, the company commissioned Neon Products of Vancouver to manufacture a very large double-sided neon eagle. Typical of neon signs of the era, the eagle was painted with dramatic designs and bright primary colours on metal with blue, white, and gold neon tubing serving to highlight the outline of the eagle. The "Burnaby Eagle" sign immediately became a landmark on the Burnaby Heights business district. From its high perch atop the dealership building, located at Carleton Street, the Burnaby Eagle shared the night sky with other nearby classic neon signs of the era including the "Swinging Girl" sign of the Helen's Children's Wear store. Eagle Motors was a successful dealership until the recession of the 1980s, and in 1985 the business was closed. Vandalism on the site resulted in damage to the neon tubing of the sign before the leased sign was reclaimed by its owner, Neon Products Limited. The sign was obtained by a local collector, who carefully looked after it for 25 years. In 2012, the sign was sold to the City of Burnaby.
Reference
Community Heritage Commission report to Council, September 17, 2012.
Measurements
Height: 14 ft. Width: 9 ft. Thickness: 14 in.
Record Type
Artifact
Images
Less detail

9 records – page 1 of 1.

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