Restored: Terre Haute’s 1930s Clabber Girl billboard

If you ever drive US 40 westbound into Terre Haute, you’ll find a great old billboard for Clabber Girl Baking Powder at the edge of town. Clabber Girl has been made in Terre Haute since 1899. The billboard dates to the 1930s. Here’s a photo I made of it way back in 2007.

Clabber Girl

It was in pretty good shape then, but time and the elements are not kind to anything left outside. Here are some more photographs I’ve made of it over the years, showing its slow deterioration. 2009:

Clabber Girl

2013, and notice the clock is different:

Five Minutes to Terre Haute


Clabber Girl
Clabber Girl

This billboard is on what was the property of Mary Fendrich Hulman, whose family owns the makers of Clabber Girl. Mary died a few years ago, and her sprawling horse farm was sold to neighboring Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, expanding its campus. Rose-Hulman got the billboard in the deal, and decided to have this Terre Haute landmark restored. The Terre Haute Tribune-Star tells the restoration story and shares a photograph of the refreshed billboard. Read it here.

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16 responses to “Restored: Terre Haute’s 1930s Clabber Girl billboard”

  1. DougD Avatar

    Great sign, if only all advertising were as classy.

    Being from a different country, I’ve never heard of this. What’s a clabber?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Clabber is a solidified, soured milk. I didn’t know either; I had to look it up.

      1. DougD Avatar

        Oh good. I thought it sounded a bit like a disease:

        “I’m sorry Mr. Grey, but the X-ray shows multiple clabbers on your pancreas”

  2. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    It is nice when a community restores rather than removes historic structures. This is a great story!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That billboard is a real Terre Haute icon, too. Super happy to see it restored.

      1. P Avatar

        Yes, absolutely! This is great! I wish more communities would put effort into restoring their history instead of demolishing it.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I see preservation stories all the time here. It’s fairly common in Indiana.

  3. Aashutosh jha Avatar

    Nice post

  4. Photography Journal Blog Avatar

    What a cool and unique landmark.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember the first time I saw it, when I visited the Rose-Hulman campus in Oct. 1984 as part of my college selection process. It was cool then when it was a mere ~50 years old.

  5. J P Avatar

    I love a story about a long time locally owned company with a long time family-maintained billboard finally restored by a long time area institution.

    I was about to say that if Clabber Girl had been sold to a big company somewhere else in 1966 or so we wouldn’t be reading about this because the billboard would have come down by 1969. But then I just checked and discovered that Hulman & Co. just sold Clabber Girl in the past week to some New Jersey company. Oh well.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Gah! I just looked it up and was disappointed to find the news.

  6. N.S. Palmer Avatar

    Terrific photos! I regret that I never saw the real thing when I worked for a few months in Terre Haute.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was way out on the eastern edge of town on US 40, so unless you were going somewhere east of town you probably never had a need to drive that way!

  7. Lisa Juras Avatar
    Lisa Juras

    Hi Jim, do you sell any of your photo’s of the Clabber Girl Sign? We are a new franchise business coming to Terre Haute and would be so honored to have a piece of your work in our practice!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Hi Lisa – I’ll contact you directly at the email address you used when you made this comment.

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