Thursday, June 30, 2011


I was going to try to make some sort of lame joke about not understanding what "For Rentals" means, but couldn't pull it off (yeah, I'm a dweeb). But if you look closer, underneath is a sign for Norton & Peel Commercial Photography, which is perhaps a little of what the kids these days call "meta" as these gentlemen are responsible for many of the Historical Society photos I've linked too. Apparently after disentangling himself from Ralph Kramdon's various escapades old Norton hooked up with Norman Vincent Peel to start taking photos (phew, knew I could work in a lame "joke" somewhere).

The real Messrs. Norton & Peel operated their photography business at this location, from 1925 to 1965, taking more than 300,000 pictures, mostly of the local area, during that time. According to Peel's obituary, he "created the face of General Mill's original Betty Crocker."

The studio was on the second floor at 1004 Marquette Avenue, and the sign is right next to the one for Dahl's Violin Shop.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not The Tiny Sarcastic One

Continuing in what maybe used to be the music district (if there ever was such a thing), we have this sign for Dahl Violin Shop. It's still there, although it doesn't seem to have a webpage. That's fitting for a store that is upstairs in an ancient building downtown. I don't know if it qualifies for "cool old building" architecturally, but it's an interesting block, right next to where the Nicollet was supposed to be. One internet commentator says Matthias Dahl was a famous Finnish violin maker, and apparently he made shoes in the old country before focusing on violins in Minneapolis in 1912. What a fascinating life story.

Here are a few other shots from Flickr. Black and white definitely seems like an appropriate artistic choice.

Looks Better Than Bolero

Perhaps it's not fair to state it this way, but this one seems to be another victim of the planned Nicollet condos. It's Maurice Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" on the side of what used to be the downtown headquarters of Schmitt Music. The company dates to 1896, although this mural was painted in the 1970s. Today the building is an apparently empty sales office for the condos, but I remember going to the old store with my music-teacher parents when I was a kid. In my child's memory it was maze-like and chocked full of sheet music, instruments and accessories.

These days you need a memory that stretches back a few years to know what used to be here at 88 S. 10th St.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flour Power

We're back to the mill district, with the preserved Gold Medal Flour sign that's a landmark on the riverfront. Above it's framed with the old mills and the Mill City Museum, and below with the "new" Guthrie Theater. We've already covered nearby Northwestern mills, and I'm sure the Pillsbury A mill will be in our future, but this time we feature signage for the still-available product from General Mills. The site is the Washburn A mill, which dates to the 1870s and was the largest in the world upon its completion. In 1878 an explosion rocked the mill, killing several people and reducing the city's milling capacity by a third. Not to be deterred by the deaths of 18, the mill was rebuilt and back up and running again by 1880.

As you would expect, the historical society has a few good shots of the days when the mill was running as well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Guys From Winger Could Probably Help

I couldn't get too close to this one, and was limited to iPhone photography as I was on my bike, but I've started to venture a tiny bit out of the downtown core. This one is visible from the west bank Mississippi bike path, and drew me a tiny bit west and across the railroad tracks. This is and was a highly industrial area. The building abuts the tracks and says both "Diamond Iron Works Inc." and "Mahr Mfg. Company."

The first apparently dates to the 1880s as a repair shop for saw mill, flour mill and other industrial machinery. The company apparently assembled machinery and crushers to be sold under the brand names of others.

The second apparently was a division of the former that was active from 1937 to 1953. The historical society has a good picture from 1954 with sings for the company prominently on display. I'm not sure that this is the same location, but there is also a good one of Mahr furnaces loaded on a rail car from 1922 and a shop interior from 1926. Today it is K&K metal recycling.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fly, Fly Away

Okay, this one isn't a commercial sign, but it's still kind of a ghost in its own way. It's on the back of the building that used to house the downtown Key's and, if I recall, the Scientologists, but has been empty of the last few years as The Nicollet (watch out for sound) was supposed to be built on top of it. That project was a go during the housing boom, but I'm not sure where it stands now. It's had issues. Had it been built, it was to have been the tallest residential building in the Midwest outside Chicago.

I'm assuming that this is meant as public art, although it's really in a back alley. The lower left hand corner has two names, Benn Schanman and Jenn Spurgin, and a date, 4-78. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find who they are or why they painted this image of birds in flight over the Mississippi. Perhaps it's related to the rather cool sculpture and fountain on the Mall. If not, I'm fairly sure this "graffiti" on the boarded up windows on the front of the building is meant to reference it:

It's Pronounced Eye-Gor

From lumber and saw milling we move to flour. This is the side of the Northwestern Consolidated Milling Company's "Million Bushel Elevator," with the Carlyle condominium (the tallest residential building in Minneapolis) visible in the background. At the time of its formation via the consolidation of several local milling companies in 1891, Northwestern was the second largest milling company in the world behind local rival Pillsbury and just ahead of the predecessor to General Mills, also a local rival. In this era, Minneapolis, and St. Anthony Falls, was the flour milling capital of the world.

The Ceresota brand (a combination of Roman goddess of agriculture and Minnesota?) dates to 1891, but the building here is a relative new comer being built as recently as 1908. It operated as a mill until the 1950s, when it was converted to light industrial and manufacturing. Today it's rental office space.

Once again, the Historical Society has some interesting images, in particular of old ads for the Ceresota brand. I'll just highlight an interesting interior shot of the bagging operation from 1940, an undated exterior showing the industrial nature of the area that's quite a contrast to today, and an undated shot of some women holding Diamond and Ceresota brand bags (I tried but failed to resist the temptation to point out that the one on the left looks a lot like Marty Feldman).

The mill and the sign are near the river on S. 2nd St.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Babe The Blue Ox Was Stabled Across The Street

This one hearkens to fundamental reason we are all here. Lumber. Poised at the northernmost naturally navigable point of the Mississippi River, next to an abundant source of natural power in the form of St. Anthony Falls, it was lumber that first put Minneapolis on the map. Trees were felled in the northern forests, floated down river, and brought to the mills that lined either side of the falls. Flour, and even textiles came later, but what first made this the Mill City was saw milling.

The Lumber Exchange doesn't date to those early days, but it's a reminder that even before agriculture there were trees and there were saws. Today there are offices, retail on the ground level, and I guess a dance club of some sort as I walked by one weekend evening in February and saw all manner of deranged youths standing in line dressed to party and without coats. Ah, youth. It's frozen.

The Historical Society has quite a few pictures of this old gem. The city tells us that construction started in 1887, with a second phase completed in 1890. As the name suggests, it was meant to be a center of lumber trading, but its function drifted as the lumber industry faded. Wikipedia tells us that it's the oldest high rise in Minneapolis and that it's the oldest building outside of New York of more than 12 floors. It was billed as one of the first fireproof buildings, but I'm not sure if that was before or after the big 1891 fire that seems to have devastated it and its neighbors.

In addition to the sign labeling the building, there is what seems to be a separate sign for something that had offices in Chicago and St. Louis, but I can't make out any more of it.

The building sits at Hennepin and 5th Ave. S., but the sign is prominent near the intersection of Hennepin and Washington.

7 Children's Books Up

There's no mystery in the 7Up part of this ad, as it's the famous soft drink known as Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda that dates to 1929, but there's something a bit intriguing about the evidence we have of this sign's history. My guess is that it was painted before the now-demolished neighboring building went up, and it was the addition of that abutment that accounts for the two-tone coloring of the signs. That theory would leave the two bottles on the left, with their blue-shaded background, as closer to the original. Lileks contemplates the same question and offers a close up.

But there's also an ad here for Lerner Publications, which the front of the building says dates to 1959. It seems still to be in operation and wikipedia says it's one of the largest independently owned publishers of children's books. This building is still the company's headquarters.

The sign faces Hennepin Avenue on the back of 241 1st Ave. N.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

They Should Have Stopped For Directions

These are both a bit hard to read and mysterious. This building is across the street from Commutator Foundry and up a block from the Distributor building, so it's fertile territory for ghost signs. These say Chicago House. You will no doubt not be surprised that Googling Chicago House yields little beyond references to dance music in the Chicago style. Apparently that's popular with the kids today. They don't tell us old people.

The ambiguous signage is on either side of 124 1st St. N.

Monday, June 20, 2011


So as it turns out, going by more than once (and in better weather) can prove fruitful and enlightening. A closer look at the front (which is likely hard for you to read but is clearer here) says that Witt's is actually Witt's Market House. The historical society gives us a cool shot of some ladies shopping for meat at the market around 1942. Like grocery shopping, one should not blog about meat while hungry. Especially as Witt's, which at the time had six market locations, was convicted of food safety violations in 1932 relating to fresh meat, before reason and the state Supreme Court saved the day.

Here's another picture from that era, of customers in standing in line outside, showing the street cars and the view across the street. I'm guessing the volume of people means that there was war-time rationing going on. This triptych from 1923 may show a glimpse of the sign, and here's the store with a new paint job in 1948.

Here's a Witt's ad from a 1901 Minneapolis Journal that's just too cool of an interweb find not to share. Anyone want 5 pounds of butter for $1? Going back even earlier, I have to wonder whether the store was an outgrowth of Witt's stockyard and slaughterhouse, which was established in Crystal Lake (now Crystal) in 1879.

This rather random website may explain the over-painted "L" word in that it describes someone with the last name "Lash" as having been a baker at Witt's. I've not yet been able to find what became of Witt's, but I have to run, so I will leave with the speculation that perhaps Mr. Lash took over for the Witt family and repainted the sign.

Finally, here's the fourth Commutator Foundry sign that I missed the first time around:

Friday, June 17, 2011

A German Selling Leather Is Too Easy

The sign says C.F. Albricht Company, Leather & Shoe Store Supplies. But I believe it refers to the commercial undertaking of Mr. Charles Frederick Albrecht, who immigrated from Germany in 1881 at the age of 24. I have no explanation for why the spelling differs (and yes, dear readers, this time it isn't just my typo). After a rather varied career, he was president of and treasurer of a company bearing his name that was a wholesaler of leather goods and was described as the "only exclusive shoe findings business in Minneapolis" that grew to one of the largest of its kind in the "northwest." Like our undertaker friend, he passed away in 1921 (I guess Melby didn't handle the embalming).

As usual, someone else snapped and uploaded before me. This one's on the side of 118 N. 4th St.

Anyone Need A Box?

There once lived an undertaker named P.O. Melby, apparently, who had a sign painted on the side of a building. There's another word underneath the ghoulish announcement of his main trade, but I can't really read it. At least one Flickr user who also captured this sign says it's "furniture." It's a bit clearer in the photo, so I guess that's right. Perhaps there weren't enough dead people around in those days so Mr. Melby needed to sidelight in furniture. Or maybe he sold whatever kind of furniture that an undertaker of that age would need to buy (how's that for specialization). If the former, I'm not sure I'd want to shop for a sofa amongst the caskets and other tools of Mr. Melby's trade.

Anyway, I've not found much about P.O. Melby and his business. There was an embalmer with the name of Melby licensed in Illinois in 1913, but that doesn't seem to be our guy. There's a Si Melby Hall at Augsburg, but I haven't been able to connect him to either pro wrestling or preparations for eternal slumber. There also is (or was) and dorm called Agnes Melby Hall at St. Olaf, which allegedly was haunted. So, having found a ghost with a superficial tangential relationship to our sign, I guess I'll rest.

Of course, as soon as I've penned a few lines that amuse me (which I now steadfastly refuse to delete), I find a bit about our man. Peter O. Melby immigrated from Norway and ran his undertaking and cabinet making business from this location for 34 years until his death in 1921. That likely makes this sign 100 years old or more.

The spooky fun begins at 1101 S. Washington Ave., which is now Spill The Wine and was once Frank's Plumbing supply.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And They Complain About The Browns

Another Minneapolis riverfront icon, and this one involves at least a bit of paint on masonry. The North Star Woolen Mill Company built this textile mill in 1864 as part of an effort to establish the industry near St. Anthony Falls, with its long and prosperous tradition of milling. By 1925 it was nations largest manufacturer of woolen blankets.

You'll not be surprised that there are quite a few images out there. I also found this cool mother's day blanket ad from 1946.

The company moved to Ohio in 1949 and the building sat empty for nearly 50 years. It was turned into condos in what I think was one of the city's earlier loft conversions in 1988-89. It's a personal favorite and when shopping for housing I was sorely tempted to buy here. Had I done so, I would have had my very own ghost sign, immediately below my balcony:

If you can read it, you know it's located at 109 Portland Ave. S.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Heroic Banking Overlords (never mind the failure)

I'm straying from paint on brick again, but again, I think this is special enough to include. Here we have the former Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank of Minneapolis, which helpfully tells us it was founded in 1874, with this particular structure going up in 1941. It seems that this is actually the "new" headquarters for the bank, which was previously located in what is now Sheik's strip club according the the city's landmark website. If I was to pretend that I knew something about architecture, I might say that this is Art deco. Wikipedia says I'm right, so I'm still totally willing to teach at your school.

As you can also tell from the photo, the building now houses a Westin Hotel with B.A.N.K. restaurant and bar occupying the main lobby of the old bank. The restaurant preserves much of the space's beauty and grace and makes interesting use of the old vaults.

As for the bank itself, it's no longer with us. It was failing when it was acquired by Marquette Bank in 1982 in a sale assisted by the FDIC. At the time, Marquette Bank was owned by Carl Pohlad, whose family still owns the Minnesota Twins. Marquette was eventually sold to First Bank in 1993, which in turn was later merged into U.S. Bank.

As usual, I'm not the only one whose has taken this picture. There's an additional sculptural element on the east facade as well:

All the fun is located at 6th St. S. and Marquette Ave.

Tidying Up

There's little left to be found about the The Ideal Broom & Brush Factory, in the alley between 1st & 2nd Avenues and 3rd & 4th St. Even the building itself seems to be completely abandoned. The front of the building has a faded awning that says, "The New French Bar" that definitely doesn't look, well, new.

Aside from a few Flickr photos (one of which tempts me to steal a line about Dickensian street urchins), I don't know much about this company or from where in the mists of time this comes to us. Instead I will give you a two cool Historical Society photos of a fire and its aftermath in 1937 at the Ideal Laundry that was a few blocks away, which had a cool sign of its own at the time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Yippie Ki Yay [Expletive Deleted]!

This one says H.A. Juster Co., distributor, which seems to be a clothing/textile company. Below that are ads for Mayo Spruce, which seems to have been a t-shirt company from the 1950s, and Blue Bell Wrangler, reflective of the early days of the Wrangler jeans company.

Assuming that this is the same company or a predecessor or ancestor of Juster Brothers, there are also many interesting photos available from Historical Society. Several of them are interiors from the 1920s of a textile factory, although the main store front seems to be at nearby but different location. I'm not sure where the interiors are. Also the old store front looks really familiar, but isn't at the listed location anymore. Juster Bros. apparently sponsored a Gopher football radio show in 1948. 1942 apparently was a good year for writing strange sales letters.

There are a bunch of shots of this one available of Flickr and elsewhere, including several that caught better light and weather than me. It's at the back of 319 1st Ave.

No, Not That Bakker

There are a ton of these, and I don't plan to include them all, but I liked this iPhone shot of the sign on the side of the historic Baker Building. If I'm reading this correctly, the building dates to 1925 and hosts primarily office space with retail at the skyway level.

If any of you are not from Minneapolis and have wondered what these "skyway" things are, well, there you have it. It's cold here in the winter. We need enclosed glass and metal hallways on the second story of our buildings so as not to be forced to eat our sled dogs when we leave the office to grab lunch three blocks away.

The building was featured in an ad for Carney Mortar (my personal favorite mortar supplier, use them for all your mortar and mortar-related accessory needs) in 1926, according to this vintage ad that you can currently buy from eBay. The Historical Society has a number of cool images, including of the construction and of its neighbors with the Foshay Tower in the background.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Throw Some Venison On the Barbie

I promised my own shot of the front of the Deere & Webber building, and I'm a bit short on time, so I'll throw it up quickly here. Perhaps it will give me a chance to make up for the horrific double pun in that post title, for which I've taken some gentle crap on the personal front.

All I'd like to add is that I've recently discovered Bar La Grassa, which is in the building immediately to the left of this photo. If you haven't been, you should go. I looooove the gnocci.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Outside and Friendly

We've already covered the beer, brand and history, so maybe I'll go in a different direction with this sign on the back/inside courtyard of the old Grain Belt Brewery. As for the brewery itself, as the City of Minneapolis tells us, construction began in 1891. It was closed from 1927 until the end of Prohibition, but re-opened with the passing of that dark age and operated until 1975 when operations were transferred to St. Louis. Today it houses office space.

I was also a little surprised to see this ad, directly on the side of the brewery, sporting the name of Naegele. I get how the billboard portion of the former Naegele Outdoor Advertising business worked. They put up a sign and you pay to advertise on it. But why would they be involved in a sign on your own building? If that was a more interesting question, maybe I'd look for an answer, but instead I'll just point out that Naegele was a key source of the fortune that brought hockey back to Minnesota in the form of the Wild.

Getting back to beer, the building is an excellent example of what I call the "cool old building" architectural style. Yes, I'd be happy to guest teach an architectural class at your school. Meanwhile, enjoy this friendly sign from the front of the building:

Industrial Product Selling Company Inc.

Right across the intersection from Commutator Foundry, is a mysterious distributor of unknown products at 200 N. 1st St. Writing On The Wall caught the Visitor Parking and Shipping signs on the 2nd Ave. side of the building, so we know they had visitors and they shipped stuff. You can also see that significant renovation work has been done since WOTW came buy, and the building encouragingly looks close to returning to productive use.

Actually, Google Street View has outdone me, as you can actually see that it says Coal Burning Equipment Company on 2nd Ave. as well. I'm not sure how I missed that, but perhaps I will have to go by again. Of course, a name that generic doesn't do much to help us learn about its past either.

Edited to add: Vindication! The identifying sign is currently covered up and illegible:

Friday, June 10, 2011


This might be my favorite. The combination of the clarity of the signs and the period authenticity of the building compels you to wonder about its history. There are signs on at least three sides (I guess there's actually a fourth one I missed) and the building is the subject of quite a few pics on the interwebs. The historical society has two shots, one of which is clearly dated to 1936.

I've not found a ton on the company behind the signs, but here is an interesting article from the Downtown Journal (via Writing on the Wall) from 2004. It's primarily about the building's then (and current?) owner, who at the time promised to preserve the building without renovation for some time. It looks like he's kept that promise. I was surprised, though, at the implication that the foundry apparently was in operation until 1979, when the gentleman in the profile purchased the building.

Apparently a commutator is a type of switch for certain types of motors. It's also a mathematical term (that I don't understand). I'll leave it to you to decide which inspired the name. I'll also leave you with one last shot:

You can find them all at 125 1st St. N.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hedgehogs and Hellscapes

This one is definitely a ghost as it's barely legible. What I can make out says "Sonic Tires" and "Tire Distributor." It's also a ghost in that I can't find much about it on the internet (during the limited time allotted to Googling).

To state the obvious, it used to be a tire distributor. Sonic seems to have been a tire brand that the internet mostly forgot. All I can find are an eBay auction for a '70s-vintage brass belt buckle and a vintage painted metal sign (way cool) touting the "tire of the future today" that is more than a little reminiscent of something out of a Fallout landscape.

It's in the middle of a multi-block complex of warehouses turned into apartments on the 600 block of 1st St. N. (To read the sign, you might need to click on the pic to enlarge)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Taste of Nordeast

I wanted something special for the 20th sign, the second full page of posts, so I decided to bend the rules a bit again (I'm The Decider, so I can do that) for a true Minneapolis icon. The Grain Belt beer sign has been flashing it hints of barley and hop goodness toward downtown from its perch on Nicollet Island for ages. It was apparently for sale and in ill repair a year and a half ago, and hasn't flashed as it's meant to for some time.

Before American brewing became concentrated in Milwaukee, St. Louis and Colorado (or who are we kidding, these days, South Africa, Belgium and Canada), Grain Belt was one of the regional brands that served the Upper Midwest. The brand dates to before Prohibition and today it seems the original yellow beer seems to be gaining PBR-like ironic popularity. Today it's owned by August Schell Brewing of New Ulm and the original brew is complimented by the deliciously darker Nordeast. The abandoned old brewery in Northeast Minneapolis is on the national register of historic places.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Deere Grylls?

The Deere & Webber Company, according to one source, was an offshoot of John Deere that sold bicycles. Another source identifies it as simply the branch office, or distributor, based here in Minneapolis, providing a trademark or logo used by Deere & Webber in 1880. Deere & Webber may also have made buggies and carriages in the pre-tractor days. The company was apparently named for Christopher Webber (along with Deere of course), who ran Deere interests in Minneapolis from 1881 onward before getting his name in lights in 1893. Collection suits were apparently still being brought in the Deere & Webber name at least as late as 1942. Mr. Webber apparently married into the Deere family and came to have significant positions within the company along with prominence within the Minneapolis community.

This sign is actually on the back of the building, facing 2nd Ave. N. The front of the building, which I will feature with my own picture at some point in the future, is also quite interesting.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

One more block down Washington there are ghost signs covering an entire side of a building. The two on the right are for warehouse space (big shocker here in the warehouse district). I can't make out the top, but spanning the building in the second row of signage we have "Martin Parry Commercial Bodies." Sounds pretty cool, right? Like maybe back in the day you could buy cadavers for TV commercials or something? Awesome!?

Okay, so not quite that macabre. Martin Parry was once a vehicle manufacturer, but by 1915 was specialized in building truck bodies for the Ford Model T (click the link for a great set of illustrations from the company's 1926 catalog). An analyst report from 1923 says the company was formed in a combination of two predecessors in 1919. The company was bought by GM in 1930 (more great illustrations) and renamed the Chevrolet Body Division. This sign was therefore likely painted sometime between 1919 and 1930, and probably graced a distributor of Martin Parry bodies. You can find it at 607 Washington Ave. N.

Party Like It's 1884

Okay, so this one is both less of a ghost and a little too easy. The good folks at Gardner Hardware Co. tell us they have been serving Minneapolis since 1884. That probably means that their fairly freshly-painted sign is covering other of their older signs, including the one for The Maytag Company (in whose demise as an independent company I played a minor role, but let's not get into more of that antitrust stuff).

The store is at 515 Washington Ave. N.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


This one's also been covered by Writing On The Wall. Or, more accurately, the main sign has been. The main sign is for Appliance Parts Inc., distributors of goods described in the name. The name is a bit too generic to have much hope of learning the history of the company, but here are a pair of interesting shots from Flickr.

There are other intriguingly vague whispers surrounding that which is visible. Below the appliance parts, I think I can read McGuire Plows. The McGuire Manufacturing Company (later McGuire-Cummings) was apparently a 19th Century maker of railway cars and railway snow removal equipment. Which means that those letters could be more than 110 years old.

Meanwhile Down On The Farm

This building at 312 N. Washington Ave. appears to be mostly empty, although the first floor seemed to be the home of the Institute of Production and Recording. Clearly it was once a farm implement dealer in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. There are two signs for Van Brunt Seeder, founded in the 1850s by inventors of an automated seeding machine. The company was apparently the largest farm implement manufacturer in the world as of 1911, the same year it was consolidated into John Deere. The absence of that famous name may mean that this sign dates to even earlier times.

The other ad is for Milwaukee Harvester Company, which was part of a major consolidation in the farm machinery business in 1902 that formed International Harvester and that was eventually challenged under the federal antitrust laws. The New York Times published a notice of the company's acquisition on August 13, 1902 saying that the buyer was unknown.

Agriculture is still big business in Minnesota, but its place at the heart of our culture is fading. I've watched how the Minnesota State Fair has changed over my lifetime. The machinery part of Machinery Hill keeps shrinking. Farm commodities reports are gone from the local news (although as I don't listen to WCCO anymore, maybe I just miss them). TV isn't dominated by agricultural ads. These signs are a reminder of how central farming used to be.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Eh, Just One More Thing

This one is apparently only a ghost via its age. Falk Paper Co. seems to still be a going concern, although its website says that the company dates to 1898. I can't help but picture something like Dunder Mifflin, but it looks more like industrial and custom commercial paper and packing materials.

Here's another shot from Flickr, and here's a bit more info on the building itself. 618 N. 3rd St.

One Big Pepper

Not all interesting old signs need be made of paint on brick. I've never heard of it (perhaps I'm sheltered or something), but the Snoboy brand is apparently still in use by what is now Amerifresh Corporation, a produce marketer. The brand dates to 1925, and this particular trademark was in use from 1960 to 1985.

The sign is in front of what is now a Sharing and Caring Hands location, apparently appropriately being preserved for posterity. According to this Flickr user, this used to be the headquarters of Pacific Gamble Robinson, a predecessor of Amerifresh. 525 N. 7th St.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sans Talking Animated Children

The weather and the fact that this is shot through a window are robbing this one of its vitality, but Writing On The Wall has a somewhat better shot. It's Lee Overall's and work clothes. Not a lot of mystery in the product, but but it looks like an old sign. 206 N. 3rd St.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tiny Bubbles

I was dodging rain and thunderstorms when I took this one (the North Minneapolis tornado was later that day), so I wasn't able to get very close. From the skyway near Ramp C, this appears to say "Kirk's." I think it might be a soap ad for Kirk's Coco Castile, brand I've never heard of but is apparently more than 160 years old.

Would You Like Fries With That?

This sign takes us into the Warehouse District, and into territory that's already been covered by Writing On The Wall. The lower part of this sign is for Cliquot Club, which WOTW says is a brand of soft drink that was absorbed into Canada Dry. The brand apparently dates to the 1880s, and once included a vast bottling and distribution network before fading away in the 1960s.

I'm also interested, however, in the top part of the sign, for Landy Packing. The company or its affiliate rendering plant seems to have been the subject of a noxious fume complaint in St. Cloud in 1968 (pdf), and the subject of fairly strong criticism from the 8th Cir. in 1980 for its inconsistent efforts to delay the resolution of a labor dispute resulting in an adverse award. I've not been able to find what became of the company, but if there was a rendering operation downtown, my nose and I are not unhappy that it's gone. Someone might want to tell this Chinese maker of packaging materials about the association, though.

This one is at 417 N. 2nd Ave., and here's another shot from a different source.