Originally opened in 1944, AAA Sign Co. in Boise, ID, has weathered the winds of time and etched its place into sign-making history.
Owner Paul Ashley got his start in the sign industry during World War II painting signs and sandblasting submarines for the Navy. At the tail end of the war, he was able to realize his dream of opening a sign shop with help from his brother John, who operated an auto-repair business under the same roof.
After the war ended, AAA Sign Co. established itself as the go-to sign shop for businesses and residents in the area. As the business grew, Paul became known for many of the landmark signs in the city.
According to Allen Haumann, Paul’s Grandson, “Grandpa had zero fear of heights. His sons (my father and uncle), however, were both TERRIFIED of them. He’d drag ’em up on scaffolding to help him on weekends anyway. Grandpa probably believed in total immersion therapy.”
For 50 years, AAA Sign Co. served the Boise and surrounding areas as a full-service sign shop, specializing in billboards, gold leaf, neon, hand-painted, and electrical signs. Paul’s style of sign painting was considered groundbreaking and consisted of minimal use of borders and decoration, concentrating instead on letters and typography, specifically Alf Becker letter-form alphabets that were popular in Signs of the Times magazines back then.
Sadly, Mr. Ashley passed away in 2001, leaving AAA Sign Co. to his grandson Allen. Today, AAA Sign Co. is managed by Boise local Justinian Morton, a historical restoration expert and vintage signmaker who has spent much of his time restoring the AAA Sign Co. building to its original condition.
Justinian Morton restoring the AAA Sign Co. building earlier this year.
“I spent as much time as I could restoring the building to what it looked like during World War II. Since it’s been open, I’ve made several hand-painted signs for local Boise businesses, all done in a variety of historical styles, Paul’s style among them”, says Justinian.
Coastal Enterprises would like to thank both Allen Haumann and Justinian Morton for help gathering these vintage photos and putting together this article about Paul Ashley and the historical AAA Sign Co.
For more information, please visit: www.justinianmorton.com, or check out this short video about Justinian and the AAA Sign Co.:
A look inside the AAA Sign Co. today.
Paul’s grandson Allen in front of AAA Sign Co. in 2011