Time running out to save ‘ghost signs’ found in Lake View
There is a promising update in the effort to preserve several “ghost signs,” which appeared on Chicago’s North Side late last month.
CHICAGO – There is a promising update in the effort to preserve several “ghost signs” which appeared on Chicago’s North Side late last month.
But — there is still work to be done — and the clock is ticking.
“[They’re] very unusual,” said Tod Swormstedt, founder of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio, who was in Chicago Wednesday to visit them at the corner of Addison and Ravenswood in Lake View. “In fact, I’m not sure that I’ ve seen one where there’s lap siding.”
Swormstedt has offered a permanent home in his museum for the ghost signs — estimated to have been hand-painted in the 1930s — if they can be safely removed.
A team of ghost sign enthusiasts and preservationists are raising money to make sure the dismantling gets done…and quickly.
“If we aren’t able to get these signs down before the [August] 22nd, the whole building will essentially be bulldozed,” said Kelsey McClellan, co-owner of Heart & Bones Signs, who is leading the effort to save them. “So the signs will just go into the garbage and will be destroyed, so we ‘re really hoping we’ll be able to save them beforehand.”
“We feel really confident we’re going to get these down,” said Andrew McClellan. “Where there’s a will there’s a way…and we want to save them.”
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The ghost signs are one of a kind.
Not only for being on wood (which is almost unheard of), but also for being stunningly well-preserved behind another layer of siding for the last eight or nine decades. Swormstedt calls them “exquisite,” but said dismantling them won’t be easy.
Even though his museum is in Cincinnati, he said he would prefer they remain in Chicago and is helping out regardless of their eventual home.
“There’s a bunch of issues we gotta deal with,” he said. “The nails, we have to see if they’re hand-pounded nails. It’s going to take a lot more love and care to get this lap siding down. But I think it’s going to be worth it.”
The building is scheduled to be demolished on August 22nd, and the group is only a quarter of the way to raising the $20,000 it needs for scaffolding, storage and moving costs.
If you’d like to help out, search GoFundMe for “Historic Chicago Signs.”