Western Appliance

This has to be the most gigantic sign in San Jose. But besides the huge sign, Western Appliance is most notable for being in business since 1873. Jacob Niederauer opened the first store in Bakersfield, CA shortly after the end of the Civil War. And while there weren’t really very many home appliances that were available back then, the store sold household goods and furnishings. The San Jose location of the store is form 1927, with the sign being built in 1962.

It’s always a challenge to try and capture the scale of this sign. Sometimes I use context when sketching it, like when I sketched it form across San Carlos, through the palm trees.


At other times, I’ve tried drawing it large and looming to give you an idea of how large it is.


The sign originally had red, blue and green lights flashing atop the three spires. But the City of San Jose had them turned off so that they wouldn’t confuse planes landing at the nearby airport. Here’s that sign again, sketched looking westward, at sunset.

To complete my series, I painted the sign one night from a deserted parking lot nearby. The lit spires brought to mind the Golden Gate Bridge.

1976 W San Carlos St.

4 Comments Western Appliance

  1. Carmela Sunnyvale June 1, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Suhita–you are doing a great job locating and painting the vintage signs. So much is disappearing from our urban landscape and your project is a wonderful reminder of the not-so-distant past.

    1. Suhita June 1, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Thanks Carmela, it’s been fun to dig up stories connected to the signs and find out about a San Jose I never knew.

  2. Nancy waldron June 1, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    How funny, I was born and raised in San Jose and after several moves, ended up near Bakersfield. I remember that sign in an area we called Burbank, I think. Or maybe it was near my father’s gas station on San Carlos and Race street by the florist shop. Love your posts.

    1. Suhita June 1, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      wow, that’s great to hear. Nancy. Love the shared stories. You’ve seen the posts here on the florist shop, right?


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