Ghost Signs Across the United States
Ghost signs are those old painted signs on the sides of brick buildings that are faded and sometimes hard to see. These nostalgic old signs are now just a ghost of their previous life.
These old advertising signs are also sometimes called "wall dogs." Unlike billboards or standalone signs, these signs were painted directly onto the buildings.
Ghost signs can take up part or all of the side of a building and were usually advertising signs for a product or a business when they were originally painted on the building. Most ghost signs are found on brick buildings.
These signs are recognized today for their artistic significance and beauty. Many people work to preserve these ghost signs on buildings to keep part of a bygone era alive.
My Introduction to Ghost Signs
When I lived in Springfield, Illinois, I found out about the walking tours of architecture around town. An architecture designer organized and moderated these walking tours. It was interesting to see the buildings I drove by every day through the eyes of an architect.
Each year, Downtown Springfield sponsored a free architectural walking tour that was held once a month from May to October. We met at a designated spot and started from there. We walked several blocks during each tour looking at architecture from as early as the late-1800s and as recent as the 1950s.
On each tour, if a building we passed on our scheduled tour had an old painted advertising sign on the brick facade, the architect stopped and pointed it out. This is where I first heard the term "ghost signs." I'd seen these signs but didn't know what they were called.
Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood
Ghost Signs Captured in Books - Read About and Check Out Photos of Ghost Signs
More Books about Ghost Signs - With Photos, Of Course
Ghost Signs in Maryland and Beyond - Thanks, Lori!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Layered Ghost Sign by Tom Bland - for sale at Etsy.com
Stoke Newington, London, UK.
Photograph by Tom Bland.
My 'Sign Of The Times' project documents striking ghost signs wherever I can find them, and is an ode to the more traditional methods of advertising before the arrival of the digital screen and revolving billboard: graphic design, typography, craftsmanship and paint.
Advertising Signs May Be Fading Away
but you can learn more about them
Often ghost signs are discovered when one building next to another building is torn down. The outside walls of the two buildings were so close together that the old faded art of the ghost sign was preserved from the weather and elements.
Ghost signs were originally hand painted onto sides of brick buildings advertising stores like a drug store or a clothing store. Sometimes the advertising was for a product like tobacco or laundry soap or quaint products like liniment.
Ghost signs "are known as 'ghost signs,' so called because many have faded beyond recognition from decades of exposure to the elements," according to the mtstandard.com.
Most municipalities do not consider ghost signs to be of historical significance, therefore, these relics are not able to be preserved unless the owner takes on the job.
Ghost sign shown here on a building in Springfield, Illinois.
Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood
Ghost Signs - Springfield, IllinoisClick thumbnail to view full-size
"I love ghost signs because they are tangible
reminders of the past and they're so subtle -
they're there, but they're not there."
~ Andy Masich, president of the Senator John Heinz History Center in the Strip District
More Photos and Information About Ghost Signs
- Ghost Signs in Fort Collins
Photos of Ghost Signs on Flickr. These signs are in Fort Collins, Colorado. I think I'm partial to the Nedley Hotel ghost sign!
- Ghost Signs - Brick Walls Signs
Ghost Signs - Brick Walls Signs from "anywhere." I really like the Belmont Cafe ghost sign.
- Ghost Signs
There are so many things to look for when driving along the old highways and through the older parts of town. A new interest of mine is spotting the fading, peeling advertising signs on walls that are sometimes called "ghost signs". The painted image
This is the home of the Ghostsigns Project, a collaborative national effort to photograph, research and archive the remaining examples of hand painted wall advertising in the UK and Ireland. Here is a little bit of background and, if you find it inte
- Philadelphia Ghost Sign Project: Forthcoming Philadelphia Ghost Sign book
Philadelphia Ghost Signs.
- Ghost Signs of Louisville
A ghost sign is a painted advertisement on a building, most prominent prior to the 1930s (sometimes dating back to the late 1800s). They are typically painted on brick buildings. People have begun to document these fading remnants of advertising in u
- Ghost images remain from heyday of hand-painted outdoor advertising | TribLIVE
When you think of an original work of art, the last thing that comes to mind is scouring the sides of buildings in the hopes of finding a one-off. Priceless treasures painstakingly created by artists are usually shielded from even the tiniest hint of
- Sassytrash: A little wander
Photo of a building with a fine ghost sign.
- Ghost Stories: Talking Fading Ads with Photographer Frank Jump
The New York Observer: For more than 20 years photographer Frank Jump has been documenting New York’s fading ads. Slowly vanishing signs of yesteryear, the building ads are ephemera that has stubbornly persisted in our constantly changing urban land
Ghost Signs in Rural Missouri - Thank you, Veryirie!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Decals of Ghost Signs for Trains
Add character and an authentic feel to the buildings in your train set with these decals of ghost signs. They come in several sizes including N scale, O scale, and HO scale as well as customizable sizes to suit your specific needs.
Ghost Signs in Zanesville, Ohio - Thanks, MaxReily!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ghost Sign in Homer, NY - Thanks, Chazz!
Ghost Signs in Mankato, Minnesota - Ghost Signs from Riverfront Drive and Old Front Street in Mankato. Thanks, Char!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sunkist Ghost Sign and Elevator Ghost Sign, Arizona - I Finally Found Some Arizona Ghost Signs!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ghost Signs in Peoria, Illinois - Thanks to My Sister for Taking These Great PhotosClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ghost Signs in New Orleans - The French QuarterClick thumbnail to view full-size
This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!