The old sign outside the Lancaster McDonald’s at 1755 Columbia Avenue was taken down Wednesday and given to a Lehigh Valley collector who hopes to eventually make it part of a museum.
The single-arch sign was installed for the first Lancaster County McDonald’s when it opened in 1962 at the Wheatland Shopping Center.
Workers began removing the sign’s letters just after 9 a.m., sliding them out to be labeled and packed away. They ran into trouble with the arch’s metal structure, needing to use torches to loosen the bolts before they could take down the top of the arch.
Installed when the first McDonald’s opened just west of the current location, the sign was moved in 1989 when Bill Brown bought the franchise and had a new building constructed for the restaurant.
The Columbia Avenue restaurant’s first franchise owner was the late Larry Arnold, whose family has continued to own area McDonald’s restaurants.
Arnold’s son, Steve, and granddaughter Stephanie Dinger-Arnold watched Wednesday as the old sign was taken apart.
The new sign for the McDonald’s had been installed Tuesday across the driveway for where the old sign stood.
Mike Fountaine, who owns a McDonald’s restaurant in Allentown, says he will put the sign in storage until he can make it part of a McDonald’s museum he hopes to create.
On Wednesday, he was overseeing the removal of the panels and labeling them before he packed them in a small box truck.
The 62-year-old Fountaine, who has owned four different McDonald’s restaurants, now has more than 75,000 pieces of McDonald’s memorabilia at his home, including more than 20,000 lapel pins.
Fountaine has been trying to convince McDonald’s corporation to help him open a museum for his collection that would have the sign as its centerpiece.
“Hopefully one day your children will go into a museum and it will be there,” he said.