History, Museums

Ghost Signs

The History Museum at the Castle posted great article on Facebook about a ghost sign found in an Appleton building being remodeled. While removing plaster from an interior wall, the building owner discovered an old advertisement painted on the building next door. This ad was painted on the exterior wall of building sometime in the late 19th century, and it was covered up when the structure next to it was built. Painted advertisements preserved for this amount of time are called ghost signs.

This form of advertising is fascinating! These paintings could take up entire sides of a building. Oshkosh has quite a few of these ghost signs, some in better condition that others. Even in little Markesan, where I grew up, there is very faint ghost sign on the side of one of  the buildings. I was happy to hear that the building owners in Appleton decided to preserve the ghost sign and make it part of the building’s decor.

I ran across the site Ghost Sign Project that is mapping out the location of these old building advertisements. If you know the location of some, you could help document this history by photographing and marking the location of this forgotten art. Personally, I would like to see signs in poor condition be revived. Cities are trying to find ways to capture history and promote tourism, and what better way to do that than restoring the signs that captures urban history?!

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