Posts Tagged ‘Ghost Signs’

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Murals in The Grove

September 27, 2010

In the past couple of months the Grove has hosted two street celebrations that contributed murals to the view from Manchester.  The most recent one is pretty cool.

New Mural in The Grove - Pays Homage to another nearby Mural of a Dragon

Even better, these two new murals (one of which is an Ad for PBR) aren’t the only ones in the neighborhood.

Window Washer Mural on Manchester

In fact, The Grove was already home to some of the coolest murals in the city.

Boombox Painting by Peat Wollaeger

The painting above features Peat’s trademark eyeball and is an appropriate accompaniment to The Atomic Cowboy.  Even the local Post Office sports a mural.

Mural on the Post Office in The Grove

Along Manchester there are several more murals than the ones I have shown above and an excellent collection of Ghost Signs (which also exist both North and South of Manchester throughout the neighborhood).

Ghost Sign and Recent Paint

I would personally love to see some of the Ghost Signs restored to accompany the growing arsenal of Murals.  In St. Louis, a city with far more than its fair share of abandoned buildings and blank walls, we need more than just a couple of areas to embrace murals as a way of improving a neighborhood with minimal monetary investment.  The Grove is setting a great example.

More about this year’s mural can be found at St. Louis Core dot Com.

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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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Sweetie Pie’s Progress in Grand Center

April 10, 2010

My love of Grand Center (and my addiction to the Best Steak House) has kept me driving past the future fourth location of Sweetie Pie’s, keeping me up to date on the swift progress that is being made on this project.  A few days ago, to my delight, I noticed that as the outer layer of the building was being peeled off to reveal the brick underneath, Ghost Signs were also revealed on the West side of the building.

San-Del Strickland Printing Co Sign @ New Sweetie Pie's Location

Here is a closer look at the wall in 2 chunks:

San-Del Strickland

S-D Bindery Co.

Google doesn’t seem to know much about the business advertised here but I hope to come across more information as I continue to look.  Still, it is exciting simply to see history excavated like this (even though in this case the brick will still have to be covered up again because of the strong adhesive used to initially cover it).

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Ghost Sign on Centene Center for the Arts

January 27, 2010

Today, while reading Misfit Stream, a great River des Peres resource (there is so much information out there about this river), I stumbled upon a historic photograph with a familiar looking building – the Continental Life.

Olive looking towards Grand in the 1960s(?)

Just above and to the left of the bowling pin on the right side of this photo is a painted sign for the INTL ASSN of Machinists.  This same sign is still visible today on what is now the Centene Center for the Arts.

Centene Center for the Arts - Grand Center

Although it is quite faded, the wording is still fairly legible at the right side of this photo.  The harsh juxtaposition of a busy, dense, street with one that is now all but abandoned is a little bit sad, but it should inspire us to restore Grand Center into an area that better reflects its Grand history.

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MacArthur Bridge

January 15, 2010

Today I visited the MacArthur Bridge.  I had been planning a trip along the abandoned road deck of this bridge for some time now, inspired initially by this account of an exploration of the Bridge (which I apparently stole the name of my blog from), and then by other sources such as the Post-Dispatch and Wikipedia.  I had of course forgotten to do my homework before driving downtown, but luckily was able to find the entrance to the road deck from Chouteau Street very close to the Eat-Rite Diner.

Approach to the Bridge

Walking across the bridge was like a trip back to a time where roads didn’t need 10 lanes and trains needed more space than cars.  Unfortunately the fog made the city almost invisible from the bridge, which I’m sure on a clear day would afford wonderful views, but at the same time the fog provided isolation from the more modern downtown skyline and allowed distraction free appreciation of the bridge.

Walking the bridge

Along the way is a prime advertising spot which holds many very faded ghost signs.

Ghost Signs off the MacArthur

This bridge is a great monument that reflects St. Louis in many ways.  The difficulty the city encountered navigating this project to completion is very familiar to us in 21st century St. Louis, as is the bridge’s abandonment as a road in the early 80s.  Hopefully this landmark and its struggles will not be forgotten.  Here are my photos from the trip.

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Eagle Stamps

January 4, 2010

After seeing references to Eagle Stamps on ghost signs around town, I became curious as to what they were.

Eagle Stamps Ad near Chouteau Post Office

Yahoo Answers helped a little bit.

I also found a site with a short history of these types of stamps.

Trading stamps got their start in department stores at the end of the 19th century, which owned the stamp plans they used. Schuster’s Department Store in Milwaukee is usually credited with being the first. Other chains with stamps included May (May Co. in Cleveland and its Famous Barr chain in St. Louis–which used them for decades until the early/mid-80s; [...] May’s Eagle stamps were one of the few proprietary stamp plans to spread beyond a dept store—it was estimated that 90% of households in the Cleveland area saved them during the 60s & 70s–they also were given by Pick-n-Pay super markets, the Leader Drug coop and numerous gas stations and dry cleaners.

Unfortunately these references refer mostly to Cleveland’s Eagle Stamps like this wonderful story from a Woman remembering her childhood in Cleveland.  Luckily, more wading through Google search results was fruitful.  I found ads referencing Eagle Stamps from Salt Lake City in the Deseret News, to St. Louis circa 1904.

1904 Hub Ad. - Hub Furnature is now on S. Broadway - Thanks Avocat

I finally found a good written account of Eagle Stamps in St. Louis in an interview of Sam Bellamy, a longtime resident of Dogtown.

Sam’s father first had a “filling station” at the wedge of Wise and Clayton, and he was one of the first merchants to give Eagle Stamps. For those of you too young to know, a buyer was given Eagle Stamps as a percentage of the purchase. For a $1.00 purchase you might get one eagle stamp, I can’t recall the rate, it might have been one for each dime spent. There were small books and you accumulated eagle stamps. Then there was a catalog and catalog store where you could redeem your stamps for goods. One of the things the nearly every kid did was to cadge eagle stamps from the adults, easier to get out of them than money. The Eagle Stamp Company knew this and had lots of kids good in their catalog.

Last night, I ate dinner with my parents and asked my Father about Eagle Stamps.  He told me that he remembered Famous Barr giving them out and his mother saving them up in books.  What an interesting piece of history!

More Links:

Lawsuit filed over Eagle Stamps in Cleveland

A rant which in point #10 compares Eagle Stamps to Modern Rebates

Ad explaining that Eagle Stamps are given by Thousands of Stores!

Picture of an Ad on St. Louis Ave. referencing Eagle Stamps

Article about the end of Eagle Stamps in 1987

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Ghost Signs

December 18, 2009

One hobby of mine that I have recently learned more about is photographing and researching Ghost Signs.

Ghost Signs off Washington

I have been drawn to them for years and was very pleased to find out that others are interested in these remnants of our city’s past, as close to home for me as just a few blocks up the street from where I live in dogtown.

Restored Ghost Sign near Tamm and Clayton in Dogtown

KETC has a great collection of youtube videos about St. Louis and their Ghost Signs video is very interesting.  I still have yet to pursue this hobby nearly as much as I hope to, but have so far compiled a decent group of them on my flickr site in this set and have found many photos taken by others all around the world that inspire me to continue looking out for more ghost signs.

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