Category Archives: Tacoma WA

Apparition of sign doesn’t return when you paint a new one – News Tribune – Peter Callaghan

Apparition of sign doesn’t return when you paint a new one– PETER CALLAGHAN; STAFF WRITER – THE NEWS TRIBUNE

It seems like such a simple response to a careless mistake.

Rather than lament the loss of the 77-year-old hand-painted Alt Heidelberg sign on the side of the Joy Building, just repaint it.

“Do we want to preserve the sign or the paint?” wrote one reader of my column on the screw-up by the architects and contractor charged with renovating the building AND preserving historic artifacts such as the sign.

Others pointed to the “New York and Washington Outfitting Co.” sign on the exposed wall of the Knights of Pythias Temple on Broadway as an example of repainting.

© Frank H. Jump

I’m not a fan of that sign but I was having trouble articulating why. It not only looks new, which it is, it covered the actual-though-faded sign underneath. It is so bright it detracts from the real ghost signs on the walls that were exposed when the Colonial Theater was demolished in 1988.

But paint is paint. Besides, most of the prime sign locations downtown were repainted repeatedly as new products, new businesses and new fads came along.

The Alt Heidelberg sign featuring the Student Prince from the 1920s operetta and the slogan “Everybody Knows It’s Better” was itself painted over other signs now partially exposed. (And the stein he raises in a toast was originally a bottle, according to Doug McDonnell, a local historian and descendent of the brewery’s founder.)

© Vincenzo Aiosa

So I asked a few people with a special affection for ghost signs, such as New Yorker Frank H. Jump, who features the Student Prince sign on his website Fading Ad Blog (fadingad.wordpress.com/).

“I tend to abhor repaints,” Jump wrote back. “It is the decay of a sign I find beautiful. It is a living process in a way.

“But just like all living processes, all things must die,” he wrote. “Although preservation attempts are good for historical and tourist reasons, they can’t always be realized since buildings are at risk if they become porous.”

He [Jump] included a poem he’d written that touched on the question:

“Signs and vines weather and grow.
Brick, pigment, plant and lime-
Tenuously intertwined through time.
As paint degrades and image fades,
Soft tones evolve
From salmon pinks and jades-
Into sand and grime.”

Reuben McKnight, Tacoma’s historic preservation officer, said city policy is for ghost signs on protected buildings to be preserved. But it has no policy on repainting faded or destroyed signs.

“One issue is that for multi-layered ghost signs, restoring one layer necessarily means losing or destroying another,” McKnight wrote. “As you know, multiple shadows of signs are usually visible in the unrestored signs.”

The University of Washington Tacoma, owner of the Joy Building, will report to the city landmarks commission June 9 about the loss of the Alt Heidelberg sign. The commission may discuss the idea of repainting at that meeting, McKnight said.

Michael Sullivan, a preservation consultant and former city landmarks officer, said he thinks repainting is a bad idea.

“You can’t wind back the clock,” he said, adding that repainted signs look “hokey.”

I agree. The beauty of ghost signs is that they are an apparition. The same image that you can’t see or overlook in certain light appears when the conditions are right. To come upon them is to discover an artifact of a city’s history. And to be able to see multiple layers of advertising is a sort of visual archeological dig.

Repainting, therefore, is contrary to all that makes these signs fascinating. Acknowledging that the Student Prince is lost forever makes it an even bigger debacle. But putting an inferior reproduction on the wall would be very cold comfort.

One commenter suggested a compromise of sorts. Billyizme said a recent photograph of the sign could be projected onto the wall in the evenings. It would be clear that it isn’t original. But it would be an homage to what was the last stand of an iconic Tacoma brand and mascot.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657
peter.callaghan@thenewstribune.com
blog.thenewstribune.com/politics
Read more: www.thenewstribune.com

Here I'm not making a statement about preservation, but the lack thereof. - © Vincenzo Aiosa

This wall above is opposite the New York – Washington repaint in Tacoma, Washington – a treasure trove of fading ads that now has one less gem.

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UW Tacoma work erases historic icon – Peter Callaghan – The News Tribune

© Vincenzo Aiosa

The Student Prince loved his beer.

And beer lovers in Tacoma loved the Student Prince.

I say loved – past tense – because the Student Prince is dead. The last large image of the iconic advertising symbol of local brew Alt Heidelberg was washed away from the side of the University of Washington Tacoma’s Joy Building during renovation.

“We’re deeply saddened and dismayed and heartsick over this,” said UWT spokesman Mike Wark. He said the UWT strives to preserve the historic painted signs it inherited but was told by a subcontractor that the condition of this one was too fragile to withstand brick cleaning and tuck pointing.

Read more: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2010/05/27/1202505/uw-tacoma-work-erases-historic.html#ixzz0pAzk2tKK

I wrote the piece today about the destruction of the alt Heidelberg ghostsign in Tacoma. I’m now wrestling with people who say it isn’t that big a deal because it can just be repainted. I’m trying to explain why that just isn’t the same (and would be a bad idea to try). Can you give me some help? What is the beauty of ghost signs that demands that they be original, that they be apparitions that we discover? As bad as this mistake is, I think it would be made worse by some attempt to repaint the Student Prince.

Thanks. Enjoy your page.
Peter Callaghan
The News Tribune
Tacoma, WA

Previously posted:
  • Alt Heidelberg – Columbia Brewing Co – Tacoma, WAFading Ad Blog

Daffodil Motel – Milton, WA – Seattle-Tacoma Area

© Frank H. Jump

After taking this picture, the owner or manager – an elderly woman dressed in a Sari – started yelling at me for taking a picture of “private property.” Perhaps she was concerned I was taking pictures of license plates in the parking lot.

Un-fadeable Barber Shop – Federal Way, WA

© Frank H. Jump

Owen Beach Promenade Poems & Runway Mosaics – Point Defiance Park – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

Mount Ranier (Tacoma) looms defiantly in the distance. © Frank H. Jump

W. J. “Bill” Richstein © Frank H. Jump

Leah Smith © Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

More Tacoma Walls

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Hunt & Mottet Co – Wholesale Hardware – Elias Floyd Messinger – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Google Books

© Google Books

Hotel Olympus – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

See more Tacoma at:

Tacoma Dome & Freighthouse Square Area

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Historic Photo

Historic photo within Freighthouse Square

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

near Puyallup Avenue © Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Tacoma Wheatpaste

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Alt Heidelberg – Columbia Brewing Co – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Columbia Brewing Co. history.

Courtesy of Brewery Gems dot com

Courtesy of Brewery Gems dot com

Flying Boots Cafe – Spur Room – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Slumberite Mattress – FS Harmon Furniture – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Union Station Historic District – Tacoma, WA

American Plumbing & Steam Supply Co

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

West Coast Grocery

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

McDonald & Smith

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Davies Building

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Wiegel Candy Co

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump

Waymarking

Waymarking

Tacoma’s Union Station Historic District (PDF)
Waymarking – West Coast Grocery

Kachlein Optician – Tacoma, WA

© Frank H. Jump

© Frank H. Jump