Frank Cinchett operated a neon sign company in Philadelphia until 1947 when he visited Tampa and fell in love with it.  He moved here a year later and set up shop at 4707 N. Florida Ave. 

In 1956, Frank's son, John F. Cinchett, married West Tampa girl Delia Collera. They worked together at the sign shop with John's father, Frank. Delia was the secretary and often took photographs of the new neon sign work around the city while John went to collect payments from clients. 

John had an artistic flair that manifested itself in his larger-than-life vibrant signs. The pictures were family mementos, but also served as a portfolio to show prospective clients.

In the 1950s, the Cinchett Neon Sign Company came to be Tampa’s best-known sign maker. It was an era of new names: Fred Astaire Dance Studio, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dairy Queen, Maas Brothers, Wolf Brothers, Kinney Shoes, J.C. Penney & Woolworths.  All beckoned shoppers to visit; the neon signs drew them like moths to a flame.

Eventually, John F. Cinchett took over the business.  During the late 1980s, he wanted to downsize operations and gave his son the task of cleaning and organizing.  

An employee was about to junk a dusty box of old magazines when John's son, John V. Cinchett, saw an antique snapshot's brittle corner poking through. He said "No, let's not throw that out yet." So he stored the photos at the shop again, then moved them to his mother's attic after his father's death in 1997. is pleased to bring you an exclusive selection of one-of-a-kind photos from "Vintage Tampa Signs and Scenes" by John V. Cinchett.

The images on this site are copyrighted and used by permission of John V. Cinchett.  They are not  to be reproduced without his permission.

John V. Cinchett is fascinated by the 1950s, the years when his father was busy supplying neon signs to a growing, bustling Tampa. His passion for the 1950s and his love of commercial neon art spurred him to spend years compiling and organizing rare photos of Tampa from that era.

Some months later, a newspaper writer began periodically asking John  for some of his historic Tampa photos.

Then one day, John saw a book of old Tampa photos. He had an epiphany and knew what he wanted to do.  He organized the photos and at considerable cost, had them cleaned and restored.  

The photos were the genesis for his book, Vintage Tampa Signs and Scenes.  "It really wasn't about him or writing a book per se" said the editor of Arcadia Publishing.  "He was more interested in the memories he was going to re-create for the people who'd read the book."

It's about sharing the memories.

The information on this page was provided by John V. Cinchett; a Feb. 13, 2009 St. Pete Times newspaper article by  writer Victoria Bekiempis and a Feb. 13, 2009 Tampa Tribune article by Michelle Bearden.

Don't miss Johnny Cinchett's latest book, Vintage Tampa Storefronts and Scenes!