Friday, December 26, 2008

Gim Ling

Seventh and Lane, Chinatown

Sam Sloan Cigar

Sixth and Weller, Chinatown

Sam Sloan was a railroad tycoon as well as president of several large corporations including Western Union. For more details, follow this link-

Not sure where the cigars come into his story- I assume this store sold these cigars, but am unclear about whether it had something to do with our railroad or something else entirely. Curious!

Shanghai Hotel

King and Seventh, Chinatown

I have no idea what this "Queen" sign is, but it appears in two separate locations within just a few blocks in Chinatown... I just can't get what that last word is!

Michigan House... 15c

Seventh and Weller, Chinatown

Though they share a wall, the lettering below is different than Michigan House lettering above which was likely a hotel. This lettering is advertising *something* for 15 cents... the cheapest rooms seem to have run around 25 cents, though I suppose this ad could be much older. More research required here.

Bush Garden

Maynard and Lane, Chinatown

OK Hotel

Alaskan Way and Main, Pioneer Square

My photo was taken from the right side of the building. If you look closely, you can see the address:

"212 RR Ave."

Now, that's excitin'!

Railroad Ave became Alaskan Way I believe around 1936 or so. Follow this Wikipedia entry to learn more.

The Hotel has been an important aspect of the Seattle music scene, and now operates as an art gallery. Follow this link for more history and current information about the O.K.:

Black Bear Brand

1st and Main, Pioneer Square

I originally titled this post as Black Bear Beans, but recently found this photograph in a book about Pioneer Square which nails it down:

Black Bear Manufacturing made overalls and even had a line catering to the ladies!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Frye Hotel Garage

Washington and Occidental, Pioneer Square

What's somewhat interesting is that the Frye Hotel is 2 blocks east of here, which doesn't seem very convenient unless the hotel had valet service.

Hotel U.S.

Jackson and Maynard, Chinatown

Monday, November 17, 2008

Du Pont

Mercer and Fairview, South Lake Union

E. I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS & Co. Paints Varnishes- I suspect this was a wholesaler outlet at some point- incidentally, the du Pont history in Washington is fascinating-

Roycroft Theater

19th and Aloha, Capitol Hill

I had just finished the book "The Hill with a Future: Seattle's Capitol Hill" by Jacqueline B. Williams when I just happened to ride down 19th and saw this. In the book, she talks specifically about the Roycroft's history for several dedicated paragraphs. I almost lost my passenger when I stopped to snap this pic, I was so excited.

The building now houses the Russian Community Center. Lucky Russians!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


12th and Madison, Capitol Hill

I believe this advertisement is for Oldsmobile, though the "l" and the "e" of the word don't look right to me. Fascinating that it was painted in reverse, to look correct to drivers in their rear-view mirrors! Great find!


Third and University, Downtown

I was admiring the awesome Seattle Tower when I noticed this on the building adjacent. This was the local Ma Bell building, natch. I wish we could see the wording.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Motor Co.

Broadway and Union, Capitol Hill

I'll try not to get too depressed about this and instead focus on the fact that we can actually still see the color and artistry of the sign that once was.

H.W. Baker Linen Co.

10th and Union, Capitol Hill

I can't get over how perfect this sign still is, it must be fairly new in terms of ghost signs. In fact, google tells me that this company still exists, though certainly not in this building any longer.

Service Station

11th between Pine and Pike, Capitol Hill

Looks like I captured this on just the right day. Though its hard to tell, the lettering probably says "Overland" which reader MrCachet points out in the comment section here was a popular car in the early 1900's. The only legible wording left is:

"Service Station"

Physican [sic]

10th and Pine, Capitol Hill

A total guess, but my instinct tells me that this was an advertisement for some kind of physician preparation school. I believe the ad *probably* once said:


Yeah. They misspelled "Physician". This sign has since been covered by a modern advertisement.

7/22/09- UPDATE: the modern (vinyl?) sign has been removed and the original ghostie is in tact!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


419 Occidental Avenue South, Pioneer Square
Seen from 2nd and Jackson
Currently Houses FX McRory's Steak, Chop and Oyster House

"Optimus Soda Fountains and Store Fixtures. 'Purity' Brand Crushed Fruits & Fountain Syrups", Estab. 1882 Stewar[t] .... Drug Co. [Wholes]ale Drugs . Importers & Manufacturers".

This is an amazing sign, and runs a close second to the Chop Suey Chow Mein sign in Chinatown as my favorite in Seattle.

Particularly interesting to me about this sign is the name "Chris" in very small letters between the windows and just under and between the words "Wholesale" and "Drugs". Could be the artist's name, but of course I don't really know.

Washington Shoe

Jackson and Occidental, Pioneer Square
Currently occupied by Washington Shoe Company



"Originating in 1891,Washington Shoe Company is one of the Seattle area's oldest companies. They began their business by selling rugged work boots to the thousands of men trying to make their fortunes in the harsh conditions of the Alaska Gold Rush.

The Company now designs and manufactures a variety of boots and shoes for adult female and male audiences and also sells a line of children's shoes, boots and accessories."

We Paint Signs

Westlake Avenue N., South Lake Union

This building appears to date back to the industrial days of Lake Union, and was clearly a sign shop at some point. "We Paint SIGNS" is repeated several times on the east face of the building. This sign business could very possibly be responsible for many of the ghost signs represented on this blog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Unknown 4

First Street, SODO

Adjacent to the "STS Tools" Sign. I can't make this out at all, but it looks like at least two ads here, and some earthquake repair.


First Street, SODO

Looks like "STS Tools".


First Street, SODO

Can't make much out here- just the words "Shop and Foundery Supplies" and "Machinery". This ad is adjacent to the Owl Cigar ad.

Owl Cigar

First Street, SODO

There's certainly a lot going on here. OWL Cigar is only one of several things advertised here.


553 1st Ave S.- Pioneer Square
Currently occupied by Triangle Pub

There looks to be at least three ads here, two of which are for beer. The words I can make out here are "...mrich Bros beer Sign of Quality". Under or over that was painted some fancy swirly lettering that I can't make out, though one of the words looks like it could say "today". From "Vanishing Seattle" by Clark Humphrey: "Andrew Hemrich opened the Bay View Brewery in South Seattle in 1878. It Merged with two larger firms in 1893 to form the Seattle Brewing and Malting Company, who's flagship brand was Rainier Beer. Rainier became Seattle's most popular beer and was shipped as far as Alaska. Its Georgetown main plant was the worlds sixth largest brewery by 1916, when Prohibition shut it down. Upon repeal, Canadian Fritz Sick and his Tacoma-born son Emil bought Rainier's old Airport Way plant, the acquired the Rainier name from a California firm that had picked it up."

My opinion is that this advertisement was painted sometime between 1910 when the building was built and the beginning of Prohibition in 1920.

"Originally a hotel and bar, this flatiron building, home of the present-day Triangle Pub, was built at a cost of $22,000 in 1910. In the 1920s, the hotel closed as the city grew north. The bar closed during this time due to prohibition and the war against alcohol.

Western Union occupied a part of the building from its inception in 1910 until 1940. The top floors of the building are said to have served as a brothel until as recently as 1945.

The National Park Service granted this building landmark status in 1976. The tavern re-opened in 1981 to its current name of the Triangle Pub."


First and Columbia, Pioneer Square

We were able to go to the top of a nearby parking garage to get this one. Looks like about three ads all mashed up. "OWL" is one word, next to the O is a "w" that no longer appears to belong to a word, and along the top it says "... Storage Warehouse". looks like this space has a long history of advertisements, with lots of color.


Post and Yesler- Pioneer Square

There are three things to notice here... on the main building in this photo, there are bands of advertisements above and below the top floor windows. The top band appears to include the word "Line"... or not. The other thing to notice is the far building which also includes a ghost sign. No telling what it is.

Electric Supplies

Post and Yesler- Pioneer Square

This ad is on the smokestack of the Seattle Steam Corporation's Pioneer Square facility. All I can make out is "Electric Supplies".

From Wikipedia:

"The Seattle Steam Company is a privately owned district heating public utility that provides steam (generated by burning natural gas, diesel oil, and recycled wood) to over 175 business in downtown Seattle and on First Hill via 18 miles of steam pipeline. Its plants are located on Western Avenue at Union Street, just west of the Pike Place Market, and on Post Avenue at Yesler Way, in Pioneer Square."

"Seattle Steam was founded in 1893 as the Seattle Steam Heat and Power Co. It owns 18 miles of pipes under the streets of Downtown. Its average winter output is 250,000 to 300,000 lbs of steam per hour; this drops to less than 100,000 pounds in the summer."

"Seattle Steam's biggest customers are Swedish Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, and Virginia Mason Medical Center, which use the steam for heat and sterilization. Other big customers include hotels, which use the steam for heat and for generating hot water, Seattle Public Library, which uses it for heat and the Seattle Art Museum, which uses it for heat and humidity control."

Lovera Cigar

1st and Yesler- Pioneer Square

"Lovera Cigar Today's Smoke Only 5C"

This advertisement is in excellent shape, and was a complete surprise. We went to the top of a parking structure for a different reason altogether (incidentally, the parking structure is in the spot where the old Seattle Hotel once stood) and immediately spotted this beauty. Clearly at least a double sign and probably a triple, though I can't tell what it once said. Let me know if you can read the underlying ads.

Unknown 3

Another faded ghostie. No telling what this was, and I'm ashamed to admit I don't know where it is either.


2nd and Cherry, Downtown

This one is too far gone to make anything out, though it seems it *might* be an ad for WHISKEY. I had to do some color removal and general tuning to get this much out of the photo. This building is attached to The Alaska Building on its south face.

The Alaska Building

Second and Cherry, Downtown


- This is the city's first steel-framed skyscraper.
- Seattle's first "modern" skyscraper, the building is an "L" shape.
- Tallest building in Seattle from 1904 until 1911 when it was displaced by the Hoge Building one block north.
- Sold by the City of Seattle in August 2005 for $8.5 million to Kauri Investments, who had plans to convert the upper half of the building into 100 condo units.
- The building was purchased by American Life on December 6, 2007 for $38.7 million.
- The renovated building will have 200 hotel rooms and 36 apartments when it is reconstructed in 2009.
- Besides conversion to hotel space, a 37,377 square-foot addition to the existing structure was performed in 2008.

Amazing how blue it still is!