Ghost Signs in North America

GhostSign for the former Dennison Hotel, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio
GhostSign for the former Dennison Hotel, downtown Cincinnati, Ohio

A large part of my travels includes a serious fascination with ghost signs – old painted advertising on exterior walls.  Many are in reasonably good shape, and others can barely be read.  Sometimes they have been painted over multiple times.  Others, like the Dennison Hotel above, no longer exist.  The hotel survived for 125 years, but demolition began in 2017.

 

Ivory Soap
Fading Sign: Ivory soap on a wall in New Castle, Delaware

New Castle, Delaware is a small community established in the 1600s and located on the Delaware River.  Its historic value shouldn’t be underestimated.  Lots of shops in the historic area, which has been lovingly preserved.  The buildings are full of businesses and residences.  It has not been maintained strictly for tourists.  This Ivory Soap sign is located on the side of a home.

 

Sutherland Press Ghost Sign
Sutherland Press Ghost Sign

This building was constructed in 1913 as a biscuit manufacturer.  It was a staple of downtown St Thomas, Ontario.  My sister worked here many years ago.  This beautiful sign was located at the rear of the building.  Vacant for many years, there was a failed attempt to turn it into condominiums.  The sidewalk in front of the building had to be blocked off due to crumbling bricks, yet the building remained.  Demolished in 2017.

 

Wild Rose Cake & Pastry Flour, Vancouver BC
Wild Rose Cake & Pastry Flour, Vancouver BC

Down an alley somewhere in the east of the city, Wild Rose Cake and Pastry Flour slowly fades away.  The Sing Lee Fish Market used to be located just to the left.

 

Ben Wicks Pub, Toronto
Ben Wicks Pub, Toronto

 

Ben Wicks was born in England but came to Canada in 1957.  He became a celebrated author and cartoonist.  The Ben Wicks Pub was located on Parliament Street in Toronto’s Cabbagetown.  It closed a few years ago, and the new owners preserved this sign.  Now I see that another business has taken over – I wonder if they have also preserved this monument to Pierre Trudeau?

 

Dr Pierce - Charlotte, Michigan
Dr Pierce – Charlotte, Michigan

Charlotte, Michigan is a nicely preserved town of about nine thousand located near Lansing.  It made for a nice weekend getaway a few years ago.  Here’s a ghost sign for “Dr Pierce’s favorite prescription”, which “cures weak women”.  Located on the main street, there are several other excellent signs in the town, along with a very good coffee shop.

 

 

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