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A Program About Unusual Buildings & Other Roadside Stuff
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Get A Tour Of Great And Goofy American Architecture In
On PBS In July

PITTSBURGH, PA - Consider the Big Duck on Long Island, a duck-shaped structure built in 1930 as a place to sell duck eggs.

Look at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota, a civic center decorated every year in massive mosaic murals made of corn.

Stop for lunch at Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi, where you can eat inside the “skirt” of a building, erected in 1940 to attract tourist business to a gas station, in the shape of an African-American mammy.

Get your prescriptions filled at Bondurant’s Pharmacy in Lexington, Kentucky, a drug store in the shape of a giant mortar and pestle.

Yes, there are still some wacky and “hey-look-at-that!”-type buildings all over America, strange structures that attract kids (and the curious) as well as carloads of customers who might otherwise drive by and never know the silly joys of outlandish architecture and its amazing ability to boost business and reflect an all-American sort of pride in the big, the unusual and the attention-grabbing wonderful.

These peculiar places are celebrated in a slightly wacky travelogue titled “A Program About Unusual Buildings & Other Roadside Stuff.” The one-hour program premieres on WQED tv13 and PBS stations across the country on Sunday, July 11 at 8 p.m. ET. In addition, the program will air on Thursday, July 15 at 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 18 at 5 p.m. on WQED tv13.

Producer Rick Sebak and his team (the folks who made “A Hot Dog Program,” “Sandwiches That You Will Like,” “A Flea Market Documentary” and “An Ice Cream Show”) take viewers across the country, from the Clam Box in Ipswich, Massachusetts, to the hot-dog-shaped Tail O’ The Pup in West Hollywood, California, checking out buildings that are in the shape of something unexpected.

“We celebrate primarily places that you can walk into,” said Rick, “but we weren’t too strict about that because we also include things like the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Collinsville, Illinois, that is really just an old water tower. You can’t climb up inside it, but you can stand beneath it and marvel at its size and beauty. Although size wasn’t as important to us as unusual shape. And we wanted to meet the folks who take care of these one-of-a-kind buildings that are the best kind of local landmarks as well as national treasures.”

Some of the places are icons of American highway history, like the motel rooms in the shape of teepees (there are still three sets of them left in America), while others are new additions to the world of strange structures, like the building in the shape of an upside down building called WonderWorks along International Drive in Orlando, Florida.
“ We went to the Mother Goose house in Hazard, Kentucky, that’s now a private residence, and we visited many places like the Shoe House in York, Pennsylvania, the Frates Milk Bottle in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and we stopped to talk with Bill Griffith, the guy who draws the Zippy the Pinhead cartoon strip because he and his characters often love these oddly shaped structures, too.”
“We learned to appreciate these unusual buildings as eccentric and loveable parts of the American landscape,” said Sebak, “and we hope that this PBS-program-with-the-long-title will make people even more aware of the special status and rare beauty of these places that dare to be different.”

“A Program About Unusual Buildings & Other Roadside Stuff,” is the latest addition to what WQED Multimedia Pittsburgh likes to call its All-American Documentaries. These include “An Ice Cream Show,” “Shore Things,” “A Hot Dog Program,” “Great Old Amusement Parks,” “A Flea Market Documentary,” and “Sandwiches That You Will Like,” all produced and narrated by Rick Sebak.


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