Battistini Reflects on End of An Era as Vintage Magnavox TV Sign Comes Down

In 2010, Frederick A. Battistini donated a CD/radio combination for a WHAV promotion. The winner was Kevin Alder. (WHAV News photograph.)

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The iconic Magnavox sign comes down. (Peter Carbone photograph for WHAV News.)

It is the end of an era for the Battistini family as it parts with the downtown Haverhill building that housed its television and appliance business for most of its 98 years.

The landmark Haverhill TV and Appliance sign, with its distinctive vertical spelling of Magnavox, came down yesterday. The building was purchased from Frederick A. “Rick” Battistini Jr. and his brother Matthew by a West Newbury developer last month for $500,000. It will become up to nine market rate apartments with a new storefront at street level.

Rick Battistini told WHAV the business was launched by his grandfather Mario, an Italian immigrant, in 1921 as bicycle repair shop on Locke Street. The movement into electronics came when a new brand of bicycles was introduced.

“I wasn’t around at the time, but my grandfather used to tell me that the company started making both radios and bicycles and their common bicycle was the Radio Flyer,” he explained.

The next logical step, Battistini said, was adding motorcycles for sale. In fact, his grandfather became the first motorcycle retailer in Haverhill, becoming a franchisee for the Indian brand. He used to sell the Indian Chief to police chiefs throughout the Merrimack Valley. After World War II, television was hot. “We had the exclusive Magnavox dealership for the Greater Haverhill area. He sold more Magnavox TVs than anybody in Massachusetts, and my dad, of course, came on later.”

The Battistinis’ dad, who passed away in 2012, came into the business when near disaster struck.

“He was in the United States Navy on a carrier. Soon after he got out of the service, I guess they had a small fire at the shop and my dad responded. He said he never left after that,” he said.

Buttonwoods Museum will receive the smaller part of the Haverhill TV and Appliance sign, while one side of the top, 16- to 18-foot vertical section with the word “Magnavox” is staying with the family. The other side is slated for sale.

Portions of the Hollywood movie “Joy” were shot near the store in 2015. The Magnavox sign was one of the few existing elements that didn’t have to be remade to look “vintage.”

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