26 Feb 2012

Vancouver demolition reveals intriguing ghostsign

Grandma's Boy ghostsign Vancouver Canada
Photo: Photocat62

Twitter and my Google Reader came alive this week following the demolition of a Vancouver building that left the best part of this 1920s sign clear for all to see.

Located on corner of Granville Street and Robson Street, it is a colourful specimen in excellent condition, the building which has come down working to protect it from weathering and whitewashing.  I especially like the very conversant copy above the manicule which reads, “Capitol, over there”.

The sign is advertising a silent film called Grandma’s Boy which ran at the Capitol Theatre for one week in October 1922.  This is clearly a short period of utility for a sign of this scale, and for a product where you would usually expect to find bill posters being used.

Grandma's Boy Poster for Harold Lloyd film

John Atkin, speaking here in a well researched piece in the Vancouver Sun, posits a theory for this unusual use of the hand painted form:

“I think the management of the theatre took advantage of the brief period when a building [on the corner] was demolished and before construction started on the new one.”

It appears that the relationship between this sign and demolition in the area now spans 90 years.  However, this time the sign will be losing out rather than gaining from the current spat of development work.  An RIP is imminent as the bulldozers are soon to turn their attention to its host building.  Luckily there have been plenty of photos taken already to record this brief revival in the limelight, one of my favourites is this one from lost ironies who also posted a clip from the film on the blog.

Grandma's Boy ghostsign Vancouver Canada Lost Ironies
Photo: lost ironies

The story of this sign has some similarities to the BP sign in King’s Cross and the ongoing reveal and cover of the Redferns signs in Wandsworth.  It is more evidence of the constantly evolving global landscape of signs being revealed and lost, in this instance a lovely discovery if only for a relatively fleeting moment.

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