Some folks would like to see the fox guarding the gin house.

A vintage neon sign that for decades graced the Silver Fox nightclub in downtown Bakersfield until the bar's closure in 2010 is now the subject of both hope and even a little controversy.

Hope because many locals are clamoring for the sign's return to the 18th Street watering hole. 

And controversy because some say the '50s-era sign should remain where it is, in the neon collection at the Kern County Museum.

"Absolutely, it should" return to the bar, Rhaya Lemons said in a Facebook poll.

"No. Too many places could get 'revived' in too many ways. Where would they draw the line on releasing these gems?" countered William T. Nuckles.

"No doubt that it should," said Ed Hayes. "My uncle owned that bar for 40 years. He would have loved that (the sign) go back up! Let’s make this happen!"

Rod and Julie Crawford reopened the more than 60-year-old watering hole last year as the Silver Fox Starlight Lounge. They say they would love to see the iconic sign blinking once again over the roof of the downtown lounge.

"It belongs here. This is where the Silver Fox belongs," said Julie Crawford as she and her husband relaxed Monday on the patio outside their downtown establishment.

"It means something to this community," she said.

The couple, who also operate the Pyrenees Cafe in Old Town Kern, said they're happy to compensate the museum and even stipulate that the museum would retain ownership of the sign, which would be returned to the museum should the Silver Fox close again.

"If the museum would be willing to work out a deal for the sign … we would love it and take care of it," said Rod Crawford.

Indeed, the couple don't even own the Pyrenees neon sign that perches over their east Bakersfield business, yet when the sign was vandalized, they went to the expense of having it repaired and covered it with unbreakable Plexiglas to protect it.

"To me, there are only two signs like that in Bakersfield," said Rod Crawford. "The Silver Fox and the Alley Cat."

Both husband and wife said they have been amazed to see the outpouring of support for the return of the sign. They noted that supporters appear to outnumber those advising caution.

Mike McCoy, the executive director of the Kern County Museum, told The Californian the museum’s philosophy is clear: Bakersfield's vintage neon signs should remain with their businesses, as long as the businesses are viable.

But the Silver Fox is a special case. The business was closed, but now is open again. And very viable, its owners say.

But McCoy has not yet weighed in on this specific case, and he could not immediately be reached Monday.

Bakersfield City Councilman Andrae Gonzales, whose ward includes the downtown business district, said he is intrigued by the idea and supports the notion of returning the sign to its original location.

"When the Silver Fox first reopened, I contacted the museum's executive director to see how we might be able to bring back the Silver Fox sign, but the conversation didn't go anywhere," Gonzales said.

There's another hurdle the Crawfords would need to get over. Once the sign was taken down, city sign ordinances could prevent it from going back up.

But if the Crawfords were able to work out a deal with the museum, Gonzales said he would do what he could to help.

Would the sign ordinance be too steep a hurdle?

"I don't know," the councilman said. "But I will work my hardest to work it out."

(4) comments


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Have they found the Trouts sign? Thats reason enough to keep the sign safe.

I agree, the building is not what it used to be. Just nuevo riche.


The design of the original sign is sympathetic and relates to the original design of the building. A great example of midcentury modern it's been cluttered up with a bunch of stuff that would be a major improvement if it was removed. Independently such additions of the rock and that tree thing "growing" all over the wall are cute in their own right but have nothing to do with the design of the building.


Leave the sign alone. They can make a replica if they are that interested in the look of it. Its not the same Silver Fox anyways, now its a yuppie joint. It used to be like Elsies in Santa Barbara.
Restaurants come and go and the sign is safe where it is.

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