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!

Lyon Building

Third and James, Downtown


"The Lyon Building, erected in 1910, was one of the earliest landmarks of the architectural movement away from Romanesque Revival and toward grander "skyscrapers." Though only six stories tall, it helped alter the character of what had previously been a low-lying residential neighborhood. Its financing reflected another trend during this period: its owners obtained construction funds by selling holdings they had acquired in Alaska during the Gold Rush. Made from reinforced concrete and faced with brick, the building features at its top a terra cotta frieze and a classical cornice. For most of its existence, the Lyon Building offered shops at the street level and offices in the five floors above. In the summer of 1997, however, rehabilitation converted its upper stories into much needed housing for people disabled with HIV and AIDS."


1st and Washington- Occidental Park, Pioneer Square

Looks to me like there were several signs here over the years. "The Alki" is clear, and I believe goes along with with the illegible black wording just under "Rainier Beer". The word "MISSION" is in different lettering which I believe is the oldest and is a remnant of William Booth's "Christian Mission" organization, which later became "The Salvation Army". Due to the adjacency of Skid Road (Yesler Way) and the "downtrodden" who resided there, The Salvation Army planted its Northwest roots on this very spot.

Also seen here is "80-TOW BATHS" on the far right. I have no idea what "80-TOW" refers to.

From Murray Morgan's book "Skid Road", an 1899 "Battle of the Brass Bands" account from a reporter from the Post-Inelligencer :
" It is about 8'o'clock in the evening that the battle begins. About that hour the players of the brass band on the west side of the avenue [Second Ave.] file out from behind the swinging doors of some cool, darkened beer saloon and, removing their coats, hats and collar, prepare for the fray... An admiring crowd quickly gathers. The selection ended, the leader of the orchestra lowers his cornet from his ruddy countenance, bows low to the crowd surrounding him and to his brave supporters.

In the meantime, the champions of the opposition have... taken their stations on a high platform built over the entrance of the People's Theater. There are three of them. The leader is armed with a violin, which he handles with the daredevil grace and ease of a plowman handling a six shooter. Scarcely less deadly is his execution. Another dark-faced young man with a melancholy cast of countenance strums a huge harp. The third of the challenged musicians defiantly pipes away through a husky clarinet.

These three musicians have only been dallying during the bout of a brass-band men. Now they strike up a lugubrious melody...a stalwart young fellow with lungs of leather adds his voice to their efforts of the instruments. "She stole nine thousand and six hundred", he bellows in the deepest of baritones" Say babe, I know we will be happy after awhile"...

The band across the street hesitates to return the fire. The crowd looks toward them for an answer. Suddenly around the block is heard the discordant blare of an untutored brass band and the voices of men and women upraised in a popular street ditty. But the words are strangely out of joint. They seem to have been adapted from a hymn book and misfitted to the tune. It is the Salvation Army!

Fifty strong, the uniformed Soldiers of the Lord swing into the street in front of the theater and march up toward their Yesler Way barracks, flags flying, torches smoking and sputtering, musicians playing like mad.

The approach of the Army settles it with the brass bands. The [Summer] heat is forgotten and with renewed interest the players await the signal. It comes, and pandemonium reigns... The crowd cheers. The Salvationists are outpointed two to one in the contest, but on they march, happily unconcsious of the fact , leaving the theater band to finish that enliviening melody, "There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight"...

Tokiwa Hotel

6th and Jackson, Chinatown

This was a total surprise. Tucked between two buildings, it is very easy to miss. The name of the hotel is hard to read but thanks to, we know that this was built in 1916 as the Tokiwa Hotel. The rest is very legible

"Rooms 50C, 75C And Up Steam Heat Hot & Cold Water In Every Room Private Baths."

Milwaukee Cafe

7th and Jackson, Chinatown

The word "Milwaukee" appears a lot here in Seattle, mostly regarding Milwaukee Tool Company. In this case though, this was the old Milwaukee Cafe which was attached to the Milwaukee Hotel. The adjacency of this hotel to Union Station indicates it was referencing Milwaukee Road, which was the parent company of the Oregon and Washington Railroad that Union Station served. Though the name of the hotel and cafe pays homage to the railroad, according to it was built in 1911 by Chinese Consul Goon Dip and was a major impetus for development of Seattle's second Chinatown.

"American and Chinese Dishes Open 2 A.M to 1 A.M".

The rest is illegible, though I can make out "25 C" just below.

Unknown Hotel

Maynard Alley and King, Chinatown

I can't make this out at all. Looks like some of the brickwork was repaired or replaced, likely after the 2001 earthquake. I'll try for a better angle when I'm out and about next time.

50 CTS And Up

Maynard Alley and King- Chinatown

I guess this technically falls into the category of "Ghost Signs" because, well... it is rather ghostly. Seattle has a lot of old-timey electric signs hanging around, some of them still in use, others not. This is one of the latter. "Hotel 35 50 cts And Up". Above and to the left you can see the edge of a painted ghost sign.


7th and Jackson, Chinatown

I've walked past this building a hundred times easily, and have never seen this before. I attribute spotting it this time to my eyes being better trained for ghost sign spotting now. Once you start seeing them, you notice them everywhere. All I can really make out are the words "Jackson" and "Co". though under it looks to be the word "Jeaz". I know that about 10 blocks east of this building is where jazz was born here in Seattle, and so I really want it to say "Jazz", but alas... let me know what you make of it.

Chop Suey- Chow Mein

7th and Jackson- Chinatown

This is my favorite ghost sign in Seattle. With the exception of the very top of the building, it's all legible. "No cover charge open 2pm-4 (or 6)am". Looks to be a double sign, no telling what was underneath. Just below, an ad for "Golden West Hotel Steam Heated Hot Cold Water". Currently houses apartments.

Just in front is an old gas station that is currently occupied by a mechanic. The owner of the property is trying to sell it, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens to these signs.

Rainier Oven Corp.

Jackson and Rainier, Central District

I can't find anything on the internet about Rainier Oven Corporation, references to Rainier Engineering Corporation or any hybrid of both. This is a double sign in my opinion, and will take some researching at the library to come up with the history. It looks to currently house live-work lofts.


3rd and Madison.

No information on this yet.

Washington State Ferries

Occidental and Yesler.

This sign has a lot going on; it is clearly at least a double sign, and I believe probably triple. The clearest words are "Capital","Sperry's Flour", "Co", and then of course "Washington State Ferries", which has been repainted at least once as the "Have Lunch Over Seas" is offset. A lot of tinkering with contrast etc shows what I believe is the word "use" next to "Sperry's Flour". The Sperry Flour company was founded in 1853 in California, but didn't expand to the NW until around 1887. The Washington State Ferries system was established in 1951. I'm very curious about the iron work on the side of the building. The bottom floor of this building currently houses a pizza joint, a soup joint and a printing business.


This sign is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, at Pike and 10th. In pretty bad shape, the only word I can make out on this sign is "Cigar".


1201 East Union (12th and Madison)
The Vanderbilt Building- currently occupied by Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, a preparatory High School.

This looks to be at least a double sign. The words I can make out are "Good", "See", "Cars" and "Buy". Unfortunately, graffiti was added at the bottom of this sign, which was subsequently powerwashed away, taking the paint of the original signs with it.