Friday, June 17, 2011

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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Adam, nice research! The space is home to the Day Block Event Center ( and Internet Exposure ( The restaurant has now closed.