Thursday, November 14, 2019

An Homage in Neon

While the Madonna Inn may be Alex Madonna's most iconic legacy, it would not exist without his first passion: construction.

Long before those 110 individually-themed guest rooms and the signature Pink Champagne cake (a favorite of SLOcals and Kacey Musgraves, alike) Alex began his Madonna Construction Company with a pick, a shovel, and a model-T Ford. The year was 1938. Alex was fresh out of high school with little more than a few hundred dollars and a dream.

Alex's high school graduation photo
Madonna, P. (2002). Madonna Inn: My Point of View (p 17). San Luis Obispo, CA: Pick and Shovel Publishing.

By early 1940 Alex had completed a few local jobs and was gaining traction as an entrepreneur. Soon, he was conducting his daily business from a rented office space in the Farmer's Hardware store that his sister, LaVerne, managed. The company's credibility grew as Alex continued to win bids for large stretches of California highways.

Alex's first business card listed the location of his office inside Farmer's Hardware
Madonna, P. (2002). Madonna Inn: My Point of View (p 24). San Luis Obispo, CA: Pick and Shovel Publishing.

After serving with the Army Corps of Engineers from 1941-1945, building roads and landing strips in the South Pacific, Alex returned to the Central Coast to continue constructing regional highways, bridges, buildings... and even the original San Luis Obispo Regional Airport!

Alex spends 4 years overseas with the Army Corps of Engineers
Madonna, P. (2002). Madonna Inn: My Point of View (p 26-27). San Luis Obispo, CA: Pick and Shovel Publishing.

The construction company continued to thrive for 66 years until Alex's passing in April 2004. At that time, Phyllis and the Madonna Family decided it was best to dedicate the team's focus towards the flourishing of the Inn - Phyllis's love and livelihood.

1949 - The Madonna Construction Company headquarters is complete

Though the days of construction are over, we continue to celebrate the Madonna Inn's humble beginnings with the refurbishing of Madonna Construction Company's original neon sign - a reverence to the man and the venture that started it all. It's estimated that the sign was erected sometime during the mid-1950's when Alex's dedicated office building was complete. 

This sign was left in a corner of the yard for years until Clint Pearce, President of Madonna Enterprises, decided it was time to see it shine once again. "I thought it would be fun," Pearce said,"... a way to honor the company's roots - to honor the family business."

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