16 Mar 2022

ABC: Always Be Checking (for more Ghost Signs)

I’ve been following photographer, researcher and writer MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson on Instagram ever since her involvement with last year’s ghost signs exhibition at the Neon Museum of Philadelphia. She posts some wonderful material from across the USA and is well worth a follow.

MaryAlice also writes a blog, Ghost Signs, Roadsides and Travel, and has kindly allowed me to share one of her posts here with some light editing. It’s an homage to the benefits of curiosity when seeking out ghost signs to photograph.

Follow that Ghost Sign Hunch! Luck Prevails in Danville, Virginia

MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Danville, Virginia, is a ghost sign banquet, and by the time I came across this garage I was nearly stuffed. Thanks to Ken Jones’ excellent blog, I knew that the city’s warehouse district was filled with more delicious ghost sign morsels than I had a right to expect, and I’d already devoured quite a few when I rounded a corner and saw several ghost signs on a public parking garage:

Ghost signs on the outside of the building. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.
Complete radiator and A/C service. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.

As usual, I checked the sides and back of the building, and as I rounded the corner and saw an open door to this building, now a public garage, a little voice in my head said, “Check the inside too!”

So I did. And what did I find? Not one. Not two. But three ghost signs, beautifully preserved.

First, inside the door:

What lies within. Three beautifully ghosted panels for Pee Gee Paints, Jas L. Pritchett and Sons, and Builders Supplies.. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.
Pee Gee Paints. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.
Builders Supplies / Common and Face Brick / Lime – Cement – Plaster/ Wall board / Roofing / Roof Paints / Composition Shingles / Waterproofing Rocklath. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.
Atlas Cement pictorial. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.

And around the corner, Harper & Croxton “Distributor”. Underneath there’s a very faded Hav-a-Tampa cigar advertisement.

Harper & Croxton. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.

And finally, the piece de resistance, The First National Bank / Cordiality … it’s your account / Member F.D.I.C.

The First National Bank. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.
Detail showing what appears to be the name of the Picketts Sign Co. above. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (F.D.I.C.) member. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.

And, on the building next door, this:

Traces of painted signs, including the words ‘Good for Life’ emerging from beneath the whitewash and tumbling letters. Photo: MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson.

Thank you, ghost sign gods. You’ve come through again.

Thank you MaryAlice for sharing these discoveries which show that when it comes to ghost signs it’s a case of ABC: Always Be Checking. You can follow MaryAlice’s work via her blog and instagram.

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