Ghost Signs


I have always enjoyed the “ghost signs” that are scattered around our Old Town Fort Collins. We are fortunate to have a few. But, my favorite is the Coca Cola sign. The textures and colors are gorgeous!

According to a brochure issued by the City of Fort Collins, which can be found HERE

“Signs are social. They identify, direct, and decorate.  In a world full of uniform and unimaginative advertising, “ghost signs” contain the originality and history that others lack. Painted by hand in vivid colors or in bold contrast, these signs were left to the elements and faded with time. The term “ghost signs” came about for a few reasons:

a ghost sign is a painted sign, at least 50 years old, on an exterior building wall heralding an obsolete product, an outdated trademark or a clue to the history of the building’s occupancy. However in some cases, such as the Coca-Cola sign, the product being advertised is still a prominent company in today’s culture. They are “ghosts” because they appear when the light is just right, when the viewer has stared long enough to see the specter, or are rediscovered following the demolition of a neighboring building.”

coca-cola-ghost-sign2We are fortunate in that the City of Fort Collins decided that our sign should be preserved. Details of that endeavor can be found HERE.

And, the original artists?

“The sign was originally painted in 1958 by local sign painter Dan Brown, who was paid $400 for his work.”

In researching this ghost sign, I also learned that the original artists of such signs were referred to as Wall Dogs- an “unglamorous nickname for the men who painted wall signs not only reflected the grunt work of sign painting but also their commitment to their art. They worked on the wall and they worked like dogs. These wall dogs had no pre-mixed paints and no electric scaffolding. If they were injured on the job there was no workmen’s compensation. The hours were also intense.”

It sounds like it was not only a busy job, but also a labor of love, by looking at how these signs turned out.

If anything, these signs are a reminder of our past, and a reminder to pay attention to the details around you.

Any ghost signs in your area?

Happy hunting!



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