Ride Across Indiana, Road Trips

Then and now: McDonald’s with classic sign in Richmond, Indiana

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

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


16 thoughts on “Then and now: McDonald’s with classic sign in Richmond, Indiana

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. Greg Clawson says:

    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. ;-)

  4. Kurt Ingham says:

    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

  5. Dan Cluley says:

    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.

    • 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.

  6. Pingback: the inexorable march of progress – journeys in film

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.