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…
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.
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 . “We have a pot of money for special projects, and so this has been in the works for a few years.”
August says the project will cost roughly $25,000. That includes the installation of new light to illuminate the High Falls sign at night.
Local artist/muralist, Brett Steeves was selected to do the work which wrapped up this past Friday.
Ghost signs 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.
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.
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.
All in all, I applaud the effort.
Tags: ads, advertising, Brett Steeves, brickads, Button Factory, fading ads, ghost signs, High Falls, High Falls Business Improvement District, John August, Mill Street, mural, Parazin Building, Partners Building
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.
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.