Posts Tagged ‘Pavement Markers’

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S.P. McKelvey & Co

January 27, 2012

S.P. McKelvey & Co was a big player in the sidewalk business of late 19th Century St. Louis.  A company he helped run, The St. Louis Flagstone Company, was in the sidewalk business starting in 1882 according to The Industries of St. Louis by J. W. Leonard (1887).

St. Louis Flagstone Company. — H. L. Haydel, Cashier; S. P. McKelvey, Superintendent; Stone Sidewalks; 618 Chestnut street. — This business was established in 1882 and has been conducted with steadily increasing success from that time to the present. The company have been city contractors for paving and flagging for the past three years. They handle every description of stone and have a very large business in laying sidewalks for property owners. About a year ago, Messrs. Haydel and McKelvey bought a half interest in the firm of P. M. Bruner & Co., manufacturers of Granitoid. Up to this writing the firm have made contracts during the present year for laying over 60,000 feet of stone flagging. They possess unsurpassed facilities for carrying on work in their line, and every contract taken by them is executed in a workmanlike manner, and to the entire satisfaction of the customer. Mr. Haydel is treasurer and Mr. McKelvey secretary of the St. Louis Reclining Car Seat Co., and both are gentlemen of superior business attainments, enjoying, in a marked degree, the esteem and confidence of the business community.

In 1890, he started S.P. McKelvey & Company.

Laid 1890 – S.P. McKelvey – St. Louis, MO

From Pen and Sunlight Sketches of Saint Louis: The Commercial Gateway to the South (1892):

The marvelous improvements effected in the manufacture of material for sidewalks, driveways, cellar floors, etc., has effected a complete revolution in the cement trade, and opened up fresh fields of usefulness for its representatives. One of the principal of these in St. Louis, although but recently established, the date being August 1, 1890, is the house of Messrs. S. P. McKelvey & Co., of suite 409, Commercial building. The members of the firm are Messrs. S. P. McKelvey, Frank Sullivan and R. G. Mayhew. Mr. McKelvey is a resident of Chicago, where he is connected with the Granitoid Company of that city. The granite composition stone laid down by this firm is, as its name implies, a mixture of crushed granite with cement, and presents all the desirable features of the solid stone. It is made as required at the scene of operations, and is unrivaled for sidewalks, drives, curbs, gutters, basement floors, brewery and malt house floors, steps, copings, etc., being absolutely impervious to the weather, and as durable as the stone itself. They have just completed a very extensive set of steps for the Grand Avenue Presbyterian Church, containing ten rises twenty-five feet long, with no joints whatever. They are prepared to execute the largest contracts in this useful department of industry with promptitude, and guarantee in every case perfect satisfaction. The house is rapidly acquiring a splendid connection in the city and its environs, and some idea of its rapid development may be obtained from the fact that during the first nine months of 1891, business to the value of $125,000 was transacted. Mr. Sullivan is a native of Ireland, and Mr. Mayhew of Germany, both gentlemen being popular and respected in all circles of the city. Their office is elegant in its appointments and furniture, and has every convenience for the accommodation of customers, such as telephonic communication (call No. 1461) etc. This is a pushing and enterprising house that deservedly merits its success.

The company certainly did fine work, judging from the current state of their surviving sidewalks and by the prevalence of sidewalks that they constructed.

The following is a continued history of S.P. McKelvey & Co through photographs of dated sidewalk markers.

By 1895 the company was called McKelvey, Mayhew and Graham.

McKelvey, Mayhew & Graham – Laid 1895

Just a year later, Mayhew & Graham were alone but were including the text “Successors to S.P. McKelvey & Co” on their sidewalk markers and in their advertisements.

Mayhew & Graham – Successors to S.P. McKelvey & Co.

By 1898 Mayhew and Graham no longer needed the reference.

Mayhew and Graham – 1898

Frank Sullivan (an original member of S.P. McKelvey & Company) had parted ways at least as early as 1896 (the oldest marker of his that I’ve found), but didn’t stray too far from the format of the marker that had been used at S. P. McKelvey & Co. a decade earlier.

Frank J. Sullivan – 1902

By 1903 Graham was also out on his own.

Graham Granitoid Co. – Laid 1903

Graham was in the Granitoid business at least until 1910 (the most recently dated sidewalk marker of his that I’ve found).

Graham Granitoid Co. – Laid 1910

It’s amazing to be able to see this history preserved all over the city.  As I encounter more of this company’s work, I will post updates here.

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Spokane Washington’s Ghost Signs and Pavement Markers

August 8, 2010

I spent last week in Spokane, Washington and was thrilled by the abundance of Ghost Signs and Pavement Markers (mostly Sidewalk Contractor Stamps), two features I love to admire in cities.  Both advertise the history of their surroundings and symbolize investment and Pride.  The city also has some wonderful architecture, but like St. Louis its built environment has been scarred by demolitions.  Unlike St. Louis however, Spokane’s Urban Riverfront Park actually links the two sides of the city together instead of existing by itself as an island like our Arch grounds (even though part of Spokane’s park is in fact an island).  People who visit downtown Spokane can easily walk across Spokane Falls Blvd and be in some part of the park’s southern boarder.  See CitytoRiver.org for how we can fix the problem with our Urban Park by reconnecting it to Downtown.

Downtown Spokane Washington

Being able to travel freely back and forth between the well preserved downtown street grid and the park allows businesses alongside the park to flourish.  Although a big chunk of the land opposite Riverfront Park is surface parking (a problem their city is trying to fix), buildings with their backs to the park still share its success.

Downtown Spokane Skyscrapers

Spokane cares about its city park and its city streets.  Concrete Contractors like WM Winkler and Cameron-Riley have been taking pride in their work for as long as they have been in business, and stamping the sidewalks they pour.

WM Winkler - 1936 Spokane

Seeing the excellent state of this 70+ year old concrete is wonderful.  Like a work of art, the sidewalk is signed by it’s creator.  I even found one Brass Sidewalk Marker.

Laid by A.K. Copson.

A.K. Copson also stamped the adjacent squares of sidewalk with a similar logo.  The competition is everywhere.

Laid by Mootz - 1930

In addition to these great pavement markers, Spokane has a wonderful collection of Ghost Signs, with a nice concentration downtown.

Ghost Signs in Downtown Spokane

Along the railroad tracks one building proclaims itself as “Home of Snowflake Saltines” and as both the Washington Cracker Company and Nabisco.  I could not help but laugh at the advertisement for Snowflake Crackers in a city that is 92 percent white.

Snowflake Crackers

Although choosing one was not easy in this haven for Ghost-Sign-spotters, my personal favorite was a advertisement for the most delicious brand of “pop:” Squirt.  I found it hidden behind trees and bushes on a small building that currently houses a boot store.

Drink Squirt

Spokane is a very cool city well worth a visit.  They set a good example of how a city should embrace its river and parks.  For more photos of Spokane and its Sidewalk Stamps and Ghost Signs see my flickr photo set from the trip.

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Sidewalk Markers

April 18, 2010

Sidewalk Markers have fascinated me since the first time I saw one on a St. Louis City Sidewalk.  A rare treat in St. Louis, these markers are still being used in other cities and express a particular company’s pride in their work.  While in Evanston Illinois recently, I noticed a sidewalk marker on the campus of Northwestern University dated 2000.

Pepper Construction Co.

Similarly but less attractively, companies throughout the city stamp their information into the sidewalk as the cement dries.

2008 Pavement Marker in Chicago

As you can see, these have significantly shorter lifespans than their metal counterparts but are cool nonetheless.  I would like to see new sidewalks in St. Louis signed by their artists again and wish that those sidewalk markers which are left over from our past were better respected.  It seems that the theft of these markers is a pretty major concern of many even though their value (in my opinion) is lost with their context.  Just a few days ago while browsing St. Louis Brick I ran across some photos of a couple of these sidewalk markers (including one which I think is amazing) as well as a warning not to disclose their locations.

St. Louis "Granitoid" Sidewalk Marker

I think this is great because it inspires people like me who always keep our eyes open for these kinds of things.  I now know for sure that there are more to discover!  Thanks!

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