On US 40 (aka the National Road) in Richmond, Indiana, you’ll find a McDonald’s on the southwest corner of 18th Street. It features a classic Golden Arches sign from around 1970. Here’s a photo I made of it on my first visit in 2009. The restaurant was a classic red Mansard-roofed design, with a giant PlayPlace tacked on.

Old McDonald's sign

When I next visited, in 2015, I hoped the classic sign would still be there. I wasn’t disappointed. But the red roof had been reshingled in a dark color.

Old McDonald's sign

On my Ride Across Indiana, the sign was still there (yay!) but the restaurant looks to have been razed and rebuilt. McDonald’s architecture is so generic now.

McDonald's on US 40, Richmond

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18 responses to “Then and now: McDonald’s with classic sign in Richmond, Indiana”

  1. J P Avatar

    I remember when that mansard roof design was new and was just brown shingles. I think those things that were probably meant to be reminiscent of arches were brown too. I thought they were really generic in the early 70s, and only years later did they get painted red and yellow.

    But yes, the new ones are generic again for the late 2010s. If they continue building them long enough will these eventually become iconic again as styles evolve around them?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Good point: iconic stuff might become iconic only after a long time.

  2. fishyfisharcade Avatar

    The McDonalds restaurants here in the UK mostly tend to have a very generic architectural style as part of a re-branding and refurbishing exercise over recent years. Nearly all of the standalone restaurants I’ve seen (locally at least) have a standard hansard-roof design with a green, white, and brown colour-scheme (the brown being a wood-panel-style type structure). Older venues have a plainer hansard-roof style. Ones in town centres and so forth tend to be just slotted into whatever existing structure they are accommodated by.

    Here are a couple of random examples of the style over here:



    Nice post BTW. Making the mundane into something interesting.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      These are very much reminiscent of the old US McDonald’s style.

      In downtowns, McD’s also just uses whatever buildings they can, here in the US. However, McD’s is less likely to operate in downtowns. The closest McD’s to downtown Indianapolis is actually north of downtown and is a freestanding building.


      1. fishyfisharcade Avatar

        Interestingly, that one looks to have changed to a more traditional McDonalds building style between 2017/18.

  3. Greg Clawson Avatar
    Greg Clawson

    I can remember when they used to change the number of burgers sold on the sign occasionally. Back then it was only in the millions. ;-)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember the low billions!

  4. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    There are very few in Italy-but thousands in Germany. Whatever that means!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve eaten at McDonald’s in Germany — and ordered a beer there. That was strange.

  5. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    PS – I looked up the actual figures-after the first reply. The difference isn’t as vast as I remembered, but it sure seemed that way

  6. brandib1977 Avatar

    I remember this sign! I’m so glad it’s still there. Modern architecture is so dull and unimaginative.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The new McD’s at this location sure is dull.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Sigh. I hope history judges us harshly for the utter lack of creativity put into designs like that.

  7. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Ok, it must be my turn to be the contrarian.

    The original ’70s brown mansard roof design was a solid design. Still a distinctive shape, but a lot more conservative & upscale than the original drive in look (those are actually my favorite) They fit in better in suburban neighborhoods, but maybe blended in too much?

    So they started painting them the bright condiment colors which I find a little over the top, but not horrible. I wonder if that started on places that restricted the size of the signs?

    The problem is the playplaces. Logistically they have to go on the front of the building, but no effort was made to make them match the original style or even really to make them attractive at all. Suddenly a tasteful restaurant looks like a tire store or something.

    The new one is certainly not great architecture, but at least it looks like it was all designed as a piece, and I actually really like the red tower as an accent.

    That said, the vintage sign is clearly the coolest part of all this.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Right – the playplaces were a tacked-on mess.

      The new McDs are not terrible on the face of it. They’re just unlikely ever to be iconic, like the mansard-roofed stores were.

  8. […] afternoon on my way out somewhere. jim grey has a series of ‘then and now’ posts (like this one). this will be a pretty extreme then and now in the near […]

  9. PaulG Avatar

    A couple notes on the McDonald’s in Richmond. The current building is the 3rd that has been at that location. Before the PlayPlace building, it was a traditional mansard roof that was located where the current building is. Back in the 70s, it had no drive-through and on the spot where the PlayPlace building is, they had a caboose. You could book it for birthday parties (I had my 7th birthday party there in 1974).

    I grew up three blocks from the restaurant and that sign has been there for as long as I can remember.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for adding the local color!

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