The Missing Ghost of Pottstown

A couple of years ago I made a trip to Pottstown, Pennsylvania because they had done a unique thing: they hired a local artist to restore some of the old, faded advertising painted on brick walls. These faded ads are commonly known as ghost signs. These shots served as a previous post of mine titled Bringing Back the Ghosts.

A few days later someone contacted me to let me know that I had missed one. It haunted me. I knew that I had to go back and find it, but I had no idea where to look. There were four that I saw in plain sight, including a marvelous Coca-Cola ad, but the fifth was hiding. This past weekend we drove around Pottstown and I decided to get a shot of The Very Best, which is a bit of a local legend, while I waited to spot the fifth ghost.

The Very Best, Pottstown, PAIf you look carefully, you can spot another ghost. Namely, me.

In order to get back in the direction I waned to go, I had to make a turn around the block and down another side street. As we turned and looked back across the railroad tracks, the ghost suddenly appeared, visible behind some buildings. I wheeled around the block and dipped into an alley, and on the other side I came face to face with the remaining restored ghost.

Merkley's restoed ghost sign, Pottstown, PA

At last, the complete set. And just to the left of this one was the rear entrance to the old Sears store, an actual un-restored ghost sign!

Sears and Markley's, Pottstown, PA

For more about ghost signs in general and specifically the restored versions in Pottstown (and one in Shenandoah), visit the Bringing Back the Ghosts post.

The Long Lost Video of Auburn

While I was digging up stuff for the last post, I finally got around to editing the video I had taken while trying to get the Genesee sign, the Hunter Dinerant, and the ghost sign. So here it is in all its splendor and glory, and the few surprises I found around the corner. Be kind, gentle reader…

Bringing Back the Ghosts

Originally, when I got into this whole taking-pictures-of-signs nonsense, my interest was solely in the classic neon signs. Somewhere along the line I branched out into ghost signs, which are about as non-neon as it gets. Perhaps it was the fascination with something from the past that is very slowly fading into oblivion, but most likely it was because I ran into the websites of Dr. Ken Jones and Frank Jump, who specialize in these disappearing pieces of history. Visit these places, and I’m sure you’ll be inspired.

But, as much as I enjoy a good ghost, I really appreciate those gallant few who have started a movement to restore these classics. Certainly, we can all appreciate the impact of a ghost sign and its visual manifestation of a building’s age. For instance, here’s a great one I found in Mt. Carmel, PA just recently:


Not only is it historical, it makes for a fun game! Guess what it says?

The King Midas Flour portion, visible (only just) at the right side is fantastic, but can you imagine if it was restored? Here’s what it most likely looked like:


This was taken in Shenandoah, PA last year. This whole building was covered in old advertisements, repainted to look just like they did at the turn of the last century.


Recently, we went through Pottstown, PA, which has become a center of these restorations. An artist named Tim Riegel was commissioned to recreate the ghost signs in the center of town. He restored five of these, four of which I was able to spot and get reasonably good pictures of:

garage-pottstown pottstown-blade weitzenkorns-wide wrigleys-pottstown

That’s an awful creepy mascot you got there, sir…

Much though I love the ghosts, there’s something terrific about these restorations, just knowing that these historic advertisements will live on for at least another hundred years. Terrific work, Mr. Riegel, and thanks to Pottstown for recognizing the significance of this art.