Rochester Subway
Subscribe for Email UpdatesBecome a Facebook FanFollow Us on TwitterRSS Feed Rochester History + New Ideas. Fresh from the Rochester Subway.

Topics


Rochester Subway Gift Shop


¤ Visit the Gift Shop
¤ See Combo Deals & Offers


Modern Rochester Subway Map


Modern Rochester Subway Map

¤ View Details
¤ Buy at Reconnect Rochester


Modern Rochester Subway Map


City of Rochester, New York

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Neighborhoods Map

Rochester Neighborhoods Map

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Subway Map, 1928


1928 Rochester Subway Map

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Subway DVD

The End of the Line - Rochester’s Subway (DVD)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Landmarks Poster

Rochester Landmarks Poster

¤ View Details

 | 

SOLD OUT


Work in Rochester

Work in Rochester

¤ View Details
¤ Buy from Amazon


Original Streetart by SPACEMAN

Original Streetart by SPACEMAN

¤ View All Spaceman Art


Old Rochester Photos<br>and Historical Views

Old Rochester Photos
and Historical Views

(Framed Reprints Available)

¤ View All Rochester Photos


Rochester Subway Cap

Embroidered Subway Cap

¤ View Details


Rochester Subway T-Shirt

Rochester Subway T-Shirt

¤ View Details


Rochester Subway Token T-Shirt

RTC Token T-Shirt

¤ View Details


Rochester RTC Token

RTC Token (1948)

¤ View Details

 | 

SOLD OUT


Roch. & Brighton Token

Roch. & Brighton Token
(1887-90)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Railway Co. Token

Rochester Railway Co. Token (1900-09)

¤ View Details

 | 

SOLD OUT


Rochester School Fare Token

School Fare Token (1948)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester NYS Railways Token

NYS Railways Token (1909-38)

¤ View Details

 | 

Add To Cart


Rochester Subway Poster + DVD Combo

Rochester Subway
Poster + DVD Combo

¤ 

Add To Cart

 (Save 10%)


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1941),
Rochester Rail Equipment

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1938),
Subway & Broad Street

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (1942),
Rochester City Hall & Subway

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1912),
Rochester’s Four Corners

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1905),
Erie Canal Aqueduct

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway Vintage Postcard

Vintage Postcard (c.1928),
South Entrance to Subway

¤ View Details

 | 

Order Reprint

¤ See All Vintage Postcards


Rochester Subway + Trolley Transit Passes

Original Subway, Trolley,
and Bus Weekly Transit Passes

¤ View All Transit Passes





High Falls Repaints Old “Ghost Signs”

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
You know those faded advertisements on the sides of old brick buildings? You may have heard them referred to as ghost signs because they’re usually just barely there, hanging on like spirits of a bygone era. Yeah, I love those things. Probably because they combine my two favorite hobbies: graphic design and local history.

The building I work in (in the High Falls neighborhood) has one of these signs on it. So naturally I took notice when someone began painting over it…

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
It turns out the High Falls Business Improvement District hired an artist to repaint two of these signs, one on the Partners Building and the other on the Parazin Building. The same artist was also commissioned to paint the High Falls historic district logo on another building at the corner of Platt and Mill Street.

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
John August, president of the Improvement District tells me the project is part of an effort to give the neighborhood back a piece of its identity. “When RG&E demolished the [Beebee Station] smokestacks, we lost our beacon in the night,” referring to the High Falls logo that was painted atop one of those stacks external link. “We have a pot of money for special projects, and so this has been in the works for a few years.”

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
August says the project will cost roughly $25,000. That includes the installation of new light to illuminate the High Falls sign at night.

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Local artist/muralist, Brett Steeves external link was selected to do the work which wrapped up this past Friday.

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Ghost signs external link offer us a look at what were the design & typographic styles of the time. They also remind us of the people who used to work here and what it was they did. These signs give great character and visual interest to our urban spaces. And let’s face it, we just don’t make ’em like that anymore. These are really one of a kind pieces of art.

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
As with any historic artifact, conservationists (myself included) may cringe upon reading this article. Personally, I love the new mural of the High Falls emblem, but I’m less enamored with the repainting of the older signs. Even though they are now spiffed up and much easier to see, I think somehow a bit of the historic element has been covered over; their mystique washed away. Perhaps that’s just me.

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. The High Falls waterwheel logo is a new addition. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. The High Falls waterwheel logo is a new addition. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
It is worth noting that all of these buildings are within the High Falls preservation district. But oddly enough, Rochester’s preservation board was only required to give approval for the new “High Falls” sign, and not the repainting of the old ones.

The High Falls Business Association has been repainting some of the old 'ghost' advertising signs on buildings along Mill Street. The High Falls waterwheel logo is a new addition. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]

All in all, I applaud the effort.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 at 7:48 am and is filed under Art + Culture, Rochester History, Rochester Images, Rochester News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “High Falls Repaints Old “Ghost Signs””

  1. Bob Williams says:

    It is just you. The repainting of them (exactly as they were of course) is absolutely the way to go. When they look sharp, they do a lot for the neighborhood. That Phillips Process mural looks great. Other good examples can be found on the Michaels-Stern building and the Capron Lofts.

  2. AmyRyb says:

    I was so sad when the old Roosevelt one was destroyed when the new Nothnagle building was renovated. I love the ones you can see at Andrews & Clinton. I think there is one on the building where the Hilton Garden Inn is going in, and I keep hoping they’ll keep it. I guess the thing is–do you leave them to fade away forever, or simply try to restore them at the last possible moment before they’re too faded? Tough call.

  3. I concur. I’ve been wishing for years they’d do something like this. So glad to see it happening!

  4. Urban Explorer says:

    There’s a great ghost sign on the back of the Sibley Building and another one for the back entrance to Scrantom’s bookstore, on Achilles Street. Even more obscure, a very faint one on the north wall of what had been the Murray Theater, on Murray Street just south of Lyell. “Attend the Murray for the finest motion picture entertainment and comfort.”

    I wish more current businesses used this type of signage. So much better than internally lit plastic cabinets or cheap looking vinyl banners.

  5. Matt says:

    I’m torn on the issue. I think it’s awesome that there’s a strong effort to preserve the signage, but that faded look is extremely appealing. Considering the emphasis on preserving the signage by re-painting it instead of letting it fade into obscurity, I have to support re-painting them. There’s an awesome WHAM 1180 mural on the side of the Whiting Building on East Ave. that could use some TLC.

  6. Jazzfan says:

    I think ghost sign restorations have a negative impact generally. They can make a neighborhood feel like a movie set – losing its genuineness even while trying to restore its own history.

    But I think this project is an exception. These signs look fantastic and add some needed curb appeal to High Falls. Great job.

  7. Vicki says:

    There’s one for “H-O steam cooked That’s why!”” (I think) on the back of the Flatiron Building. You can see it from Atlantic Ave or from University. Apparently HO was a brand of oatmeal, milled in Buffalo.

    There’s also a building on Factory St. off of State St. that was part of the Rochester Marshmallow sign. Look it up on Google Street View, and it’s clearly there. You can compare it to the 1920 picture here: http://bit.ly/1xcCQ98

  8. Patrick says:

    @Urban Explorer, I completely agree. I’ve long thought that it would be awesome if there was an advertising agency that still specialized in creating this kind of signage in downtown. I think it would look great if there were signs on the appropriate style buildings downtown that were done in the vintage style of the ghost signs… Far better than the billboards that are just basically a platform to hang a tarp….

  9. Jim Fraser says:

    Mike,
    To any conservator, this is a real dilemma. First, the discovery of a fading artifact is part of the fascination – eliminated by a full renewal. Second, authenticity is sacrificed. The signs look like they were painted last week, not in the last century. Lost is the sense of age, the passage of time. Third, and most troublesome is the possibility that the new work will actually destroy the original underneath. I find that new paint actually pulls off the older paint, seemingly because the new paint is flexible and stretches, while the old work is brittle. Poorly done, conservation can greatly complicate the next generation’s task at maintaining the original.

    There is no perfect solution. But I think the best fit is a compromise. Why not do a repair that leaves the surviving original work intact, matching that coloring as it has faded with time, instead of the original, brighter hues? Further, the new work could be deliberately less than perfect, leaving a few voids here and there, to preserve authenticity and the experience of discovery.

    In the DOI Standards for preservation, full replacement is a last resort. Conservators like to remind themselves of their responsibilities with a saying: “This is Washington’s hatchet. The only replacements are the handle and the head.” The best work is done with an invisible hand.

  10. Jane Braunig says:

    They found one in our town of Waterloo and made a small park right under the sign..Made the whole corner so much better..Way to go Rochester…History lives on

  11. Steve says:

    Why would a conservationist cringe at this? Isn’t conservationism the act of conserving an artifact, instead of letting the artifact fade away until it disappears into nothing?

  12. Andrea Whitcomb says:

    This is so cool. My great grandfather’s business sign was recently painted in the city. He died before I was born and my grandpa move the business to Livonia, however I am proud that my family began their journey in Rochester.
    Look for “Rivers Finer Furniture!”

  13. Jim’s caveats notwithstanding, I suggest that vividly alive wall signs, whether reconstructions of historic images or simply new paintings, have one distinct advantage: they imply that there is someone on the city’s sidewalks to see them.

    I think of the bounty of wall signs that once filled our city, perhaps best seen in Albert Stone’s priceless images of Rochester,and I compare those images with some of the ghastly, auto-oriented advertising we see all around us today, and I say: get out the paint!

  14. I think Jim has explained very well in his previous comment why this is touchy not only for conservators, but for anyone who appreciates history.

    In addition, I’d point out that there are several ways to “conserve” one of these ghost signs – painting over them is only one option… you could choose to restore it “just enough” as Jim suggests. And there are even ways to “freeze” the fading process to prevent it from disappearing altogether.

    If you have one of these signs and are considering restoration, I’d strongly suggest consulting someone who knows something about historic conservation so that they can explain all the options available and recommend an experienced conservator. Don’t just hire Joe Smitty who paints murals in his spare time.

    At the very least, take good photos to document the piece you’re painting over.

    Much of the fascination and charm of these signs comes not from the artwork itself, but from the idea that they somehow managed to survive this long with no one messing with them. As Jim points out, these signs now look like they were painted last week.

  15. Urban Explorer says:

    I can appreciate Jim’s comments, but the city is not a museum. These signs are not daVinci’s ‘Last Supper.’ The city is (or should be) a living place; these signs were, in their time, rather cheaply done commercial advertising.

    As I said before, cool old signs for dead businesses are great, but I would love cool new signs for current businesses even more.

  16. Charles says:

    This is a no brainer…great idea and implementation. Plus somebody putting up money, to walk the walk. Kudos and thanks.

  17. Matthew Denker says:

    I like these. I like where they still do them. Here’s one in NYC that I’ve enjoyed watching get repainted repeatedly over the years: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7799907@N05/9385940238/in/set-72157634825527643

  18. Malcolm says:

    Why $25,000?


Post a Comment...



  Most Popular...
  1. Pot Holds Bowie in Rochester
    (views: 32,348)
  2. Inside Rochester’s Terrence Tower
    (views: 28,458)
  3. Inside Abandoned Medley Centre (a.k.a Irondequoit Mall)
    (views: 23,039)
  4. University of Rochester’s Lost Swimming Pool
    (views: 17,262)
  5. Deep Inside Rochester’s Big Old Sibley Building
    (views: 14,646)
  6. Inside Rochester’s Abandoned Walters Psychiatric Building
    (views: 13,943)
  7. Abandoned Glass House
    (views: 13,406)
  8. The Best Holiday Light Displays in Rochester v1.0
    (views: 12,248)
  9. Abandoned Girl Scout Camp Beech-Wood
    (views: 11,643)
  10. History of Seabreeze Amusement Park
    (views: 11,449)
  11. Durand Eastman Park and the Lady In White
    (views: 9,155)
  12. Inside the Abandoned Camp Haccamo, Penfield
    (views: 8,535)
  13. Exploring the Caves of Rochester, NY
    (views: 8,371)
  14. Abandoned Theme Park: Frontier Town
    (views: 8,199)
  15. Inside the Abandoned Vacuum Oil Refinery
    (views: 7,731)
  16. Rochester Mafia, the Banana King, and the Infamous “Barrel Murder”
    (views: 7,508)
  17. The Old Barber House
    (views: 6,884)
  18. Inside 65-67 Chestnut St. – Old Hotel Richford
    (views: 5,674)
  19. Inside RG&E Beebee Power Plant – Just Before (and during) Demolition
    (views: 5,426)
  20. Inside the Abandoned Sykes Datatronics Building
    (views: 4,701)

Topics

  • Architecture (63)
  • Art + Culture (117)
  • Events (99)
  • Freebies (9)
  • Interviews (32)
  • Opinion (107)
  • Other (1)
  • Reader Submitted Stories (126)
  • Rochester Apartments (4)
  • Rochester Destinations (97)
  • Rochester Gifts (18)
  • Rochester History (199)
  • Rochester Homes for Sale (6)
  • Rochester Images (207)
  • Rochester News (334)
  • Rochester Subway (51)
  • Rochester Subway Stories (17)
  • Subways Around the Globe (11)
  • Train/Railroad Stuff (47)
  • Transit + Infrastructure (200)
  • Uncategorized (15)
  • Urban Development (258)
  • Urban Exploration (60)

  • Rochester Subway Information

    Get Email Updates...
    Stay up-to-date on Rochester-related stories, artifacts, and ideas that you won't find in the mainstream news. Totally free, never spammy, and you can unsubscribe at any time.


    ¤ See Past Issues
    ¤ Our Privacy Policy

    Links

    Get Involved...

    ¤ Reconnect Rochester

    Related Blogs...

    ¤ A Town Square
    ¤ Moderate Urban Champ
    ¤ Our Tiny Earth
    ¤ The Rochesterian
    ¤ RocVille
    ¤ Rust Wire

    Resources...

    ¤ RochesterDowntown.com
    ¤ Rochester's Public Library
    ¤ ROCwiki



    Want to Advertise
    on RocSubway?
    Drop us a line.


    Other ways to follow RochesterSubway.com...

    Subscribe for Email Updates

    Email

    Become a Facebook Fan

    Facebook

    Follow Us on Twitter

    Twitter

    RSS Feed

    RSS

    Questions + Comments

    For questions about the Rochester Subway Poster or about your order, please email info@rochestersubway.com.

    Want to SAVE Shipping Costs?
    Buy the Subway Posters at these local shops...

    About the Rochester Subway Poster...

    ¤ Parkleigh [ ...map it ]
    ¤ Poster Art [ ...map it ]
    ¤ Rochester Public Library Store [ ...map it ]

    ¤ Rochester Subway Poster Press Release
    ¤ Article by Otto M. Vondrak
    ¤ Design by Mike Governale

    More About The Rochester Subway

    Help Support...

    ¤ Rochester Subway (Wikipedia)
    ¤ The End of the Line - Rochester's Subway, DVD
    ¤ Abandoned Subway Photos (Opacity.us)
    ¤ Walking the Rails (YouTube Video)

    ¤ Friends of RochesterSubway.com