The Shell Oil Company sign is architecturally significant as the only surviving “spectacular” neon sign in Cambridge and one of the earliest surviving examples of such signs in the Boston area. Constructed ten years after this technology was introduced in America, the Shell sign represents an early use of neon illumination in combination with the incandescent lighted displays typical of late 19th-century advertising art. The sign was manufactured by the Donnelly Electric Manufacturing Company of Boston, one of the foremost manufacturers of advertising signs in New England.
In addition, the Shell sign is historically significant as an artifact reflecting the mixed industrial and commercial development that occurred on Memorial Drive in Cambridgeport from the early 20th century through the 1980s. It is also an important relic of the Shell Oil Corporation’s early history in the Boston area.