The historic-looking silver house plaques you see on many South Park buildings date back to the early 1990s. That’s the year they were designed and introduced to the neighborhood. Cast in aluminum, they are lettered with either the building’s street address, the name of the first family that lived there, or the date the home was built.
They continue to be popular. They were ordered in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, about 100 plaques were ordered from Specialized Castings of Greenville and individually lettered by Signetics, a Dayton company.
At that time, the cost of a plaque was about $90. Neighbors ordered their plaques through Historic South Park, Inc. That is, they made their checks out to HSPI, who then paid the manufacturer in one lump sum.
In 2017, many neighbors again expressed interest. A volunteer gathered orders for another run of plaques from Specialized Castings. At that time, 36 neighbors said they would order, but many balked at the price of $148.12 each – without lettering. Here is the company’s 2017 quote. The agreement couldn’t be fulfilled and the order was never placed.
Since higher volumes typically lead to lower prices, there may have been too few orders to make them affordable for most of us. Plus, it isn’t clear if neighbors were given an option to have their lettering done.
As this article is being written (September 2021), the COVID-19 pandemic is still impacting businesses and supply chains. We believe Signetics is no longer in business and no one has reached out to Specialized Casting since 2017. That company may be challenged by the current economic climate, too.
So, where does that leave us? Can you get a South Park historic plaque? Possibly. As long as there are companies that cast aluminum and businesses that do engraving and graphics. But takes an organized volunteer effort.
If you see the need, take the lead
If you’re willing to lead a task force to do the research about availability and price, find out how many neighbors would like to order, collect their payments, and work out delivery logistics for everyone there’s a good chance it can happen. Remember that HSPI is an all-volunteer organization. It will always be up to us to get anything done, especially unique projects like house plaques.