Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baltimore is Haunted

 Baltimore has many ghosts. You may have walked or driven by them a million times and not noticed them. They are mostly faded, worn out and sometimes so old you can't make out what they are trying to tell you. They are ghost signs...painted wall advertisements of products or businesses that are, in most cases, no longer in existence. Over the years painted wall signs lost their edge because of cheaper ways to advertise, such as billboards and plastic signs. It took a good combination of technical skill, artistic talent and physical strength to create painted wall signs. The companies that painted these signs sometimes painted their company name at the side or the bottom of the advertisement but individual artist names have been lost to time. According to LaShelle Bynum, there where 5 main companies in Baltimore that where popular in the early to mid 1900s. They were Morton, Park, Globe, Prichett and Chevery. The painters that worked for these companies were called "wall dogs".
Below is a selection of some of my favorite ghost signs in Baltimore that I have picked out of the hundreds of photographs I have taken of these "ghosts".

Houck's Shoe House, Chase St. and Greenmount Ave.
New Academy Hotel, West Franklin St.

Thirsty? Just Whistle, South Eden St.

5 cent Sensation Tabacco, B.L. Harp Groceries, North Curley St.

Silverman & Sons Co., West Baltimore St.
Adam's Pepsin Gum, L.G. Eberhardt Druggist, West Lexington St.
Diamonds Watches Radios, State St.
Syrup of Figs, E.T. Merryman Groceries, Pennsylvania Ave.
A. Chaudron & Sons Glass, Lovegrove St.
C.D. Kenny Co. Teas Coffees and Sugars, South Arlington Ave.
Bloch Bros Trade Mark, Fort Ave.

This one one, under the metal siding, is left a mystery. You can still decipher some letters and words that where once painted on the upper right side of the siding, though. East Fayette St.
Chocolate Co., South Calvert St.
Knoblock's Store, Hollins St.
Cabinet and Mill Works, North Paca St.
Gross & Stoops Carriage Works, West Saratoga St.
A. Hoen Lithographers, East Biddle St.
Belding's Silk, West Baltimore St.
Quaker Oats, Drink Coca-Cola, Belair Rd.

Visit my Flickr page for more Baltimore ghost signs.


KinoRama said...

wow, you have found more signs than I ever did. great work! I love the sign covered in metal. probably nice colors that have not faded.

Alissa said...

I love this post. I'm forever looking up for old pieces of history when I wander around town. Beautiful pictures, and I really enjoyed your blog!

DBaltimore said...

I'd love to be able to download some of your ghost sign photos - they are very cool and I'd like to frame some to hang in my home.

BaltoGirl said...

Let me know how to contact you and we can arrange something. Thanks for the compliment!