Historic Association puts out call for 2 missing Pandora sign letters, no questions asked

Restoration in progress for historic Pandora sign.

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Restoring the Pandora sign to its original glory.

MANCHESTER, NH – The illuminated sign atop the Pandora Sweater Factory was an iconic symbol of Manchester’s textile history, and the Manchester Historic Association has announced plans to restore and display the “SWEATERS” portion of the sign.

In full, the sign said “Home of Pandora Sweaters” but sadly, the elegantly scripted Pandora portion of the sign is beyond repair.

“We think that restoring even a portion of the sign for display in the Millyard Museum is a tribute to both Pandora Industries and Manchester’s historic textile industry,” said MHA Executive Director John Clayton.

The sign stood atop the Pandora Mill building at 88 Commercial Street for approximately 50 years, and the blue neon sign became a landmark for motorists passing Manchester on I-293.

Pandora Industries operated in Manchester’s Millyard from the 1940s through 1990 as a major sweater and sportswear maker, crafting as many as 60,000 sweaters per week.  It was also one of Manchester’s major employers with as many as 1,000 people working for the company.

Years of exposure to the elements caused significant damage to the sign, and it was removed from the top of the building in the early 2000s. The sign was donated to the MHA, with plans to restore and display it for posterity in the Millyard Museum.

Although it was determined that the letters of “SWEATERS” could be restored, a few of the letters had disappeared when the sign was initially removed and left leaning on the ground outside of the building at 88 Commercial St.

“It wasn’t until after those letters went missing back 15 years ago or so that there was a public urging – long before I was here – for the MHA to preserve and attempt to restore the sign. Modest donations started coming in to the Millyard Museum – unmarked envelopes with five and 10 dollar bills – so we’ve been sitting on a total of about $3,100 in restricted funds to repair the sign. That’s the base money we’ll use for the repair and ultimately, the installation in our “Loom Room” in the Millyard Museum,” Clayton said.

Recently, one of those missing letters was returned to the MHA.

“We are incredibly grateful to have part of the sign returned.” said Director of Operations Jeff Barraclough.  “With the addition of this letter, we are able to move forward with the project to restore this part of the sign.”

Although the project is moving forward, there are still two letters needed, an “E” and “S” to complete the sign.

“We would love to have the entire word “Sweaters” intact,” Barraclough added. “If anyone knows the whereabouts of these two letters, we would be very appreciative of the chance to make the sign whole again.”

No questions asked.

“The letter holders can contact us by phone and we can arrange a drop-off spot. The hope is that if they cared enough about the sign to try to preserve a part of it, that they’ll want to see all of the elements brought together again,” Clayton said.

The six letters are currently being restored by First Sign of Manchester and refitted with new neon.  The Museum hopes to be able to display the letters by the end of the year.  If anyone has any questions or information about the missing letters, please contact Jeff Barraclough at the Millyard Museum at 622-7531.