Biola University created a replica of one of the school's original "Jesus Saves" signs that was placed on top of their downtown Los Angeles campus in the 1930s, by installing a similar LED-bulb sign along with a photographic mural of the original building on the side of a parking garage at their La Mirada location.
The school's two original "Jesus Saves" neon signs remained lit for a total of 78 years at the L.A. campus' north and south dorm towers before a California pastor, Gene Scott, bought the signs and moved them to the Los Angeles University Cathedral. After Scott's death, one sign was moved to the Faith Center in Glendale, Calif., which is pastored by his widow, and the other sign continues to light up in the same building that is now known as the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A.
"Since I became president of Biola in 2007 I've been interested in reacquiring the signs, but decided to create a replica instead when our attempts to acquire an original sign were unsuccessful," said Barry H. Corey, president of Biola University, to The Christian Post on Thursday.
According to a Biola spokesperson, Ace Hotel was not interested in selling the 7-foot neon red sign, which can be seen from miles away, because developers plan to keep it due to its history. However, Corey decided that a replica sign would create "a fitting reminder" that Biola's core beliefs have not changed in the last 105 years.
Although the school could not recreate the exact landmark sign, the 38-by-59-foot photographic mural and sign displayed in the interior of Biola's campus is the closest to the original sign that the school was allowed to recreate.
"Our university's public art committee explored a variety of options and ultimately recommended the mixed-media installation, which I approved. The placement and size needed to abide by our city's codes and requirements, including height limitations and sight lines that restricted visibility to our campus boundaries," said Corey.
He also said Biola is still interested in someday reclaiming one of the signs that became the school's most iconic visual imprint in L.A.
"If, somehow in the future, one of the original large neon signs were to come into our possession, we would need to explore with the city of La Mirada where and how to display it," he said.
The unveiling of the replica sign took place during the university's undergraduate commencement ceremony in May and the project was funded in part by the 2013 graduating class.