Large Collection of St. Louis Neon Signs and Memorabilia to be Sold at Auction

Large Collection of St. Louis Neon Signs and Memorabilia to be Sold at Auction

For over fifty years Greg Rhomberg, the former CEO of Nu Way Concrete Forms who passed away last year, collected and restored neon signs and other St. Louis memorabilia. Half a century later the collection has become an extensive private museum in a nondescript building called Antique Warehouse in Lemay, just south of St. Louis city.

Greg Rhomberg (center) speaks to attendees at a private event.

The 10,000 square foot facility includes all types of signage advertising St. Louis companies, coin operated machines, antique cash registers, amusement rides, pinball machines, cars, trucks, tractors and antique recreational vehicles as well as a collection of “keys to the city of St. Louis” given out by various mayoral administrations.

The original Grant’s Farm tram that operated when the park opened in 1954. Manufactured by The National Amusement Device Co.  Dayton, Ohio U.S.A.

The collection includes the original 1954 tram from Grant’s Farm as well as numerous fire engines from the 1920’s, through the 1950’s that have undergone meticulous frame-off restorations, including a 1932 General Monarch Pumper model built in St. Louis for the city of Kirkwood.

The neon collection is said to be the second largest collection of neon signs in the Midwest, behind the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, OH. One of the unique things about the signs at Antique Warehouse is that they’re almost exclusively from St. Louis.

Hanging from the steel trusses at the museum is the original 10’ wide Busch’s Grove sign from the storied restaurant that closed in 2003, a “Root Beer” sign that once hung outside Ted Drewes, a Griesedieck Brothers Beer sign, Budweiser and Falstaff signs, multiple signs for Pevely Dairy/Ice Cream, a neon from OT Hodge’s Chile Parlor, signage from Crown Candy Kitchen, Carl’s Drive-In, Brown Shoe Company, and advertising for Magic Chef stove co.

Rhomberg often talked about his vision for making the collection public. The Antique Warehouse website states that “the Antique Warehouse is a private museum with the intentions of one day being a public museum.” In a 2010 interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rhomberg said “I’m working toward opening a sign museum”.

The Missouri Jewelite Building, 1948.

Rhomberg had previously inquired about purchasing the Missouri Jewelite building to open a museum in collaboration with St. Louis artist and sign-painter Bill Christman. There were also preliminary discussions about incorporating the collection into the National Building Arts Center in Sauget, IL.

The Antique Warehouse collection is Greg’s legacy and the culmination of his life-long dedication to preserving the history and cultural heritage of St. Louis.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Greg’s vision will not become a reality. Greg passed away unexpectedly in January of 2023. It is not known what his will states, but multiple sources who wish to remain anonymous have told NextSTL that Pennsylvania-based auction company Morphy Auctions has been contracted to liquidate the majority of the collection later this year and that items will be relocated to Las Vegas prior to the auction with the expectation that will yield higher bids. The auction is expected to take place in November.


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