On Friday, May 24, Biola University unveiled a replica of one of the school’s original “Jesus Saves” neon signs that adorned the downtown Los Angeles building dating back to the 1930s. The unveiling took place during university's undergraduate commencement ceremony.
“Biola University is making a statement about how central that message still is to our mission,” said President Barry H. Corey. “As long as Biola has existed and will exist, proclaiming ‘Jesus Saves’ will be central to who we are.”
The replica — part of an installment that includes a giant mesh photograph of Biola’s original building in downtown Los Angeles, topped by a working “Jesus Saves” sign — will be displayed on the west face of Biola’s parking structure. The installation was funded in part by the graduating senior class of 2013.
For 78 years, “Jesus Saves” has been a message illuminating the streets of Los Angeles. The first sign was constructed in 1935 with funds from Miss Ramage, a Biola radio listener from Riverside. A second sign was added a few years later. The sign was first lit on Feb. 17, 1935, when nearly 3,000 people gathered for an evening service.
At Biola’s Fall 2012 Convocation Chapel, President Barry Corey spoke about attempts to retrieve the original signs that once sat on Biola’s original building on Sixth and Hope Streets.
“I’ve made up my mind this year,” said Corey. On Biola’s 105th anniversary this spring, Corey made the announcement that a replica of the sign would be built.
“It is such an iconic symbol of our heritage and history. People who haven’t been connected with Biola in 20 or 30 years [will] want to come back and see it,” said Irene Neller, vice president of university communications and marketing. “It’s going to be one of those landmarks on campus that people are going to want to congregate around to see it.”
The signs remained on the L.A. building even when the college moved to its current campus in La Mirada. In 1989, pastor Gene Scott bought the two signs and moved them to the Los Angeles University Cathedral, formerly the United Artists Theatre. In 2011, one of the signs was moved to the Faith Center in Glendale, pastored by Scott’s wife. The other sign currently remains in downtown L.A., on top of the building that is soon to open as the Ace Hotel.
Read the Los Angeles Times article, "Biola University settles for replica of iconic 'Jesus saves' sign."
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