Friday, July 20, 2012


One last quick pre-vacation update post.  Apparently my timing was pretty good, as the Burch Pharmacy signs are now gone.  That's a little sad to me, but I guess I can see why the fancy new restaurant that's going into this space doesn't want old plastic signs for a non-existent business hanging around.  Still, my proto-preservationist heart thinks there's a way to design it that keeps the signs, or at least some of them.

Anyway, the building currently has no windows, so it's kind of interesting to stand on the street and look inside.  It could turn out to be a pretty cool space.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Foreign Lands: Back In The Saddle Again

I'm busy getting ready for vacation, so this will be a quick one.  It's from my old neighborhood in Washington, DC.  If you've lived in the area for a long time, you'd probably call the neighborhood Shaw.  If you are a realtor trying to market a property, you'd probably call it Logan Circle or Convention Center, because you like a little puffery and somehow Shaw's proud history as a center of African American culture sadly doesn't sell.

Anyway, this just south of O St. in an alley called Naylor Court NW.  The location always makes me scratch my head because as you can see in these other photos, the alley has undergone some recent renovations and now features lovely brick paving.  It looks great these days.  But I could swear that back in 2002 when I served on a DC grand jury, we heard evidence in a horrific violent crime in an alley with a similar name.  I may be misremembering, or I may not and gentrification has set in.

Unfortunately I don't know much about the J.P. Turner or his Hospital for Horses and Dogs, but it's a safe bet that they are long gone.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Livin' It Up Until We Hit The Ground

I've got some more foreign signs to work through in the backlog, not a few of which are from trucking and storage, but let's break things up a little and try to stay at home just a bit, so let's head out to Longfellow again.  As I promised, we've got more grain elevators.

The elevator's probably a bit older, but the sign looks to me like it's not from all that far back.  Harvest States should be a familiar brand to those from the Upper Midwest.  Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why, but I've heard of them, which means you should have too.

That said, it doesn't seem to say "Cenex Harvest States," so maybe that means the sign dates from before the merger of those two cooperatives in 1998.  The combined entity calls itself CHS, Inc. now, but it's still headquartered here in Minnesota, in Inver Grove Heights.  I'm not going to go too much into the company's complicated history of combinations and divestitures, but I was surprised to see among the many different transactions that Harvest States owned the Holsum brand.

It's hard to tell, at least to the untrained eye, whether this sort of facility is still in use, but it didn't look like it to me, except maybe as a cell phone tower (I think that's what those vertical rectangular things are).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Foreign Lands: Company Town?

I spent a recent Friday morning wandering around the older-looking parts of Sioux City, Iowa, in oppressive heat, and, surprise, I found more than a few ghost signs.  As it turned out, however, an overwhelming majority of them, on multiple buildings, were from a single company.  So, rather than risk turning this place into Ghost Signs of a Single Company of Sioux City, I'm going to bundle all the signs for them in a single post.  Prepare yourselves, people, as this is going to be a longer post (at least in terms of number of pictures).  I may even try to add a new trick to my magic blogging bag too.

I judged the picture up top there as the best of them, so, let's all take a moment to enjoy its beauty and clarity.  We don't get a good sign like this every day, Richard (okay, family inside joke there, if you don't get it, my apologies).  You probably have, however, heard of Bekins and seen their big green logo on a side of the truck.  But unless you're some sort of van lines fanboy or something (which probably is a thing), I bet you didn't know that Bekins was founded right here in River Ci... er.. Sioux City back in 1891 by brothers Martin and John Bekins.

The sign up top, and the next few below, are from a building wrapped in them just to the west of downtown at 4th St. and Wesley Parkway.  The one up top faces south and should be visible as you travel up Wesley.  This one's on the back, facing up the hill:

Once again, we're reminded how the fireproof thing seemed to be a point of advertising distinction back in the day.  There must have been fire everywhere.  If it was still there, we could have stopped in at the office at 419 4th St. to inquire, but alas, that's a Hom Furniture store now.

And with that, before this post gets so long as to take over the entire front page, let's try for some of that blogging magic.  Follow me after the jump, assuming I can figure out how to add one, pretty please.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Okay, so, a quick post with updates on prior signs that have had disturbance in their environments recently.

First up, as I mentioned before, the H.A. Holden Company now houses a Lunds wine shop.  Those good folks have preserved the sign, as you can see here:

There is also a plaque inside that says that the right-ward portion of the building, which now houses the walk-in beer cooler, is the original portion of the structure, which started out as a home.  I thought that was kind of interesting and cool of them to post.

There is also news at what was supposed to be The Nicollet.  Renovations are afoot, and the space seems finally destined to be put back into use, although not for a massive condo building as used to be the plan.  For now, the birds around the back are still undisturbed, but that may not continue to be the case.

Good news too for McDonald brothers.  Well, not so much news, as something I recently noticed, which is that the sign if readily visible from the seats behind home plate at Target Field, which is nice (look very closely just above the right-field jumbotron):

Finally, the Holsum thrift bakery sign has once again been cleared of its tags:

I'm not sure who thinks it's a good use of resources to keep removing graffiti from an otherwise derelict building, but it seems to be a pattern.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Damper Flapper

It's post #120, so that means we need a landmark.  As seems to be a developing pattern, I don't have paint on brick for one, but I do have one that visitors to town are likely to see.  In fact, I've been seeing this one while driving north on 35W toward downtown for years.  And yet it retained some amount of mystery because despite being readily visible it's sort of in an out of the way neighborhood tucked in next to the freeway.

So, one day, I went looking for it.  From the highway, you can see the clearly-marked smokestack above, but you can also see the big "Wells Fargo Home Mortgage" sign on the neighboring office building.  I thought that meant that the two companies existed in close proximity, but I was wrong.  This is no longer a Honeywell facility.  It just says that on the sign.  So, I guess that means it's a legit ghost.

Honeywell is one of those company's that, if you grew up in the Twin Cities, you had friends whose parents worked there.  It's a step beyond household name.  So much so that I always thought my former colleagues helping to prevent the GE/Honeywell merger awhile back meant that it would remain a Minnesota-based company.  But it seems I'm wrong and the company has its headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey.  It seems a 1999 merger already moved it away.

Nonetheless, the next shot gives us a glimpse into its real origins:

In case you can't read it, the sign says "The Minneapolis Honeywell Regulator Co., 1885-1928."  The company's history starts with a man named Albert Butz inventing a means of regulating the temperature of a coal furnace in 1885.  The precursor of the thermostat was born.  The company didn't get the disappointingly vague, yet geographically specific name of Minneapolis Heat Regulator (see below) until 1898, when the appropriately named R.W. Sweatt bought and renamed it.  A merger with Mark Honeywell's company in 1927 led to the name in the sign above.

You can't really read it, a the sun wasn't cooperating with my photography, but the top of the tower below says, "Minneapolis Heat Regulator."