A Toast to the Ghosts of Stogies Past

With the passage of time the walls of our vintage brick commercial buildings have fewer and fewer ghost signs—handpainted advertisements, many of them decades old and now faded or obscured by later signs. Here are five signs that have not yet given up the ghost:

The Stockyards Lodge Building (1908) on West Exchange. At least three Owl cigars ghost signs survive on the North Side, two of them on this building. Can you see the head of the owl posed against a full moon?

Part of another Owl cigars sign can barely be made out in the lower right corner of this much-used wall of the AFL-CIO union hall (1908) on North Main Street. This Owl sign originally read “Straiton & Storm’s Owl Cigar Now 5 Cts.”

Coca-Cola bottle on the Los Vaqueros building (1915) on North Main.

The Stockyards area has the greatest concentration of ghost signs, but here are two located elsewhere:

This building (1910) on Houston Street downtown once housed Atlantic Coffee Company, drugstores, and Thompson’s Bookstore. Joe Peters at the hat shop across the street told me he thinks Southland was an insurance company.

Standard Macaroni building on East Vickery. One hundred years ago Standard Macaroni was a rival of nearby O.B. Macaroni.

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