Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hidden signs

Somebody call Dan Brown, because there are hidden signs all over Stamford!

OK, so they're not secret symbols of the Illuminati; they're actually much cooler. Back in the days before internet pop-up ads and stadium naming rights, one of the best ways to market your product, service or store was to paint a big freakin' sign on the side of a building. Forgotten NY has a page full of these ads.

Surprisingly, a few of these old-school ads have actually survived on some buildings right here in Stamford. Check out my pictures -- and feel free to email me if you have vintage pictures of them or if you know of any that I missed.

On the side of 109 Atlantic Street, where Uncle Dai's Precious Dynasty inhabits the ground floor, is an ad for the "something" Candy Co. All I can make out is that they sold ice cream for 5 cents.

Just to the left of that ad is a very faint remnant of the Coca-Cola logo.

This sign on the side of 84 West Park Place is so faded that all I can make out is "Stamford House" (?) across the top and an H and a U between the windows. Any guesses?

On the side of the old Advocate building at 258 Atlantic Street is an ad for the Stamford Advocate, naturally. (You can just make out the "-ATE" in Advocate.) Incidentally, this building is for sale for the low, low price of $4.5 million.

According to the Atlantic Street railroad bridge, the safest place in Connecticut is 3000 Summer Street, which I hope is true since it's the home of José Grant Jewelry.

Hundreds of people pass under the Elm Street railroad bridge every day, but how many have noticed this very old ad for U.S. Royal Tires?

And finally, here's my favorite set of painted signs.

This is the old home of the Pacific Plumbing & Heating Supply Company on Pacific Street in the South End. Right on the front of the building, the company name is painted under that big arch.

On the north side of the building you'll find this fading beauty. It looks like there are several signs painted over each other, with the most prominent one advertising Schleicher & Sons' High Grade something...

A view of the other side of the building reveals that this was once a piano factory! This is a very cool sign, and it's very well-preserved.

A closer look at some of the details reveals that they actually made player pianos. How cool is that? The only link I could find about the Schleicher family is this thread on a Genealogy.com message board.

In the top left corner, you can see an even more faded sign for The Pacific Plumbing Company. That would make Pacific Plumbing even older than the player piano factory!

As a little bonus, here's a shot of another relic of the past:

These are spots on Elm Street near I-95 where the pavement has been worn away all the way down to the brick. I can't even begin to guess at how old these bricks must be.

Bonus #2: While I was working on this post, The Times wrote this article about NYC's fading ads. You can see these all over the city or at these cool sites:
Fading Ad Blog
14to42.net, which features this awesome example: 33rd Street.


Kevin McKeever said...

Really neat job of work, JR. I'll made sure to keep my eyes open for others around town.

Anonymous said...

Loved the faded sign shots. My grandmother gave us her old Schleicher & Sons upright baby grand piano years ago and we still have it. It says "Stamford" right on it.

Poems in Search of Pictures said...

That's some fancy blogging - well done!

Silli said...

Possibly my favorite post ever. I walk by many of these buildings every day and have never noticed the painted signs!

Unknown said...

Now to find out the question that always bugs me, the small 4" marble blocks embedded in the old sidewalks around town. I know of 3, on next to liberation house and 2 going up the hill to Schyler Ave next to Sacred heart school. I pass them daily and am clueless!

Unknown said...

the pic you posted of "Stamford House" is a shot of history. Stamford House was a stagecoach inn from 1865 -1869. then in 1915 the first "modern" hotel opened up in the building you pictured and it was called the Davenport Hotel, then later changed its name to Stamford House. not sure about the "H" and the "U" tho.

meg said...

what a cool post. it'll be fun trying to find more faded signs around town.

Frank Jump said...

Hey thanks for the mention! I've moved my URL to a new domain. Fading Ad Blog is now at fadingad.com/fadingadblog

Looking forward to seeing your new fading ads and come check out the new site's look.

Frank Jump

RJS3566 said...

I think I can help you with 2 of the signs. I born and raised in Stamford and have been looking at some of those signs for years. The candy company sign on Atlantic Street reads Olympia Candy Co..
I believe the one on 84 West park Place is for the Stamford House Hotel and what you think is a u is actually a o with a thin top and bottom that has worn away. Maybe the Stamford Historical Society has some information on these two businesses. BTW, nice find on the tire ad. Never noticed that one before!

RJS3566 said...

3000 Atlantic Street was once a safe deposit box facility called The Vault.

Dave Cook said...

RJS3566 beat me to it, but yes, that Atlantic St. sign reads "Olympia Candy Co. When you're over on Stillwater, keep an eye out for Polo Club, too!

RJS3566 said...

Found out recently that The Davenport Hotel, the building that the Stamford House sign is on, later changed it's name to Stamford House. The Stamford Historical Society has some very nice shots of the hotel during that time on it's website.

RJS3566 said...


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