The Townley Metal and Hardware Company building, located at 200 Walnut in the River Market District in KCMO, was erected in three separate campaigns beginning in 1895. The Townley family successfully operated in the building until 1982 when the business was sold. This building was added to the historic registry in 1994 and was converted to luxury lofts (Old Townley Lofts) in 2013.
This historic structure is magnificent … as are its ghost signs… and it has MANY! There are several (five) on the North side, one on the West side visible from the small courtyard between the Townley building and the old KC Water Department building, and one on the South visible above the parking garage.
Below is a 360° “tour” (four separate 360° pictures) of these ghost signs and area… clicking on the arrows allows you to move left and right. Use your mouse to look up, look down, look all around… and zoom in or out.
Here is a link to a Google Tour of the ghost signs with “Points of Interest” that link to more information about the art, architecture and history of the surrounding area. Click on the photo to take the tour… or just click the link below!
An often overlooked Historic District in Kansas City is the Garment District. This area is located in Downtown Kansas City, Missouri to the east of Quality Hill, across Broadway Boulevard. In the 1930s several large clothing manufacturers clustered here, making Kansas City’s garment district second only to New York City in size. Its old industrial buildings have since been redeveloped into loft apartments, office, and restaurants.
This ghost sign from the McElwain and Barton Shoe Co. is located in the heart of the Garment District on the West side of the Armour and Volker building at 308 W. 8th (built in 1902 – architect William Rose), Kansas City, Missouri.
This sign can only be seen from a few locations…. from the top of the May Street garage, from the alley on the North side of the Armour-Volker building, from the rooftop deck of the Soho Lofts, or from windows in adjacent building.
Examining this ghost sign, you can faintly see the the name McElwain on the first row, Barton on the second and Shoe Co on the third, and an interesting painted shape below the lettering.
Investigating this sign, I discovered that this mystery shape is the remnants of the McElwain Shoe Co logo. Here is a picture of the McElwain logo from the 1920’s. At this time the McElwain Shoe Company was the largest manufacturer of shoes in the world. The McElwain Barton shoe company had operations in several building in the Garment District, including the building at corner of Wyandotte and 6th street, which held their offices, and their manufacturing plant located at corner of 8th and Washington.
This post is a twofer … if you scroll to the right in the 360° picture above (or the tour below), you can also see the ghost sign for the William-Volker Company, which is located on the North side of the 6th floor of the Bond Shoe Co. building (built in 1899 – architect Van Brunt and Bro) at 316 W. 8th St, Kansas City, MO.
William Volker was an entrepreneur who turned a picture frame business into a multimillion-dollar empire and who then gave away his fortune to shape much of Kansas City, MO, much of it anonymously, earning him the nickname of “Mr. Anonymous.” The Volker frame and molding company had a factory in the Armour-Volker building. Both of these buildings (Armour-Volker and Bond Shoe Co buildings) are now part of the Soho Condominiums property.
Here is a link to a Google Tour of this ghost sign with “Points of Interest” that link to more information about the art, architecture and history of the surrounding area. Click on the photo to take the tour… or just click the link below!
The West Bottoms is an industrial area immediately to the west of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, at the confluence of the Missouri River and the Kansas River. The area is one of the oldest in the city. This combination of age, architecture (brick building) and location makes the West Bottoms a goldmine for ghost signs.
This ghost sign for the Ryley Wilson and Co Grocers is on East side of the building located at 1502 9th Street in the West Bottoms.
This Romanesque Revival style building was constructed in 1887 for the Ryley Wilson Grocer Co. The wholesale grocery business supplied many of the retail groceries who served the thousands of railroad passengers passing through the city.
Here is a link to a Google Tour of the ghost sign with “Points of Interest” that provide more information about the art and surrounding area. Click on the photo or link below to take the tour!
The Thomas Cusack Sign Company of Chicago,IL, was famous for painting outdoor ads throughout the United States. This ghost sign by the Cusack Co. plugging Bull Durham tobacco is on the West side of the Helm Salon building at 5th and Wyandotte in the River Market district in Kansas City, Missouri.
Cusack began the business in 1875 at the age of 17 and eventually sold it in 1924. During this time, it was the largest in the United States, boasting annual sales of $23,000,000. Cusack served as a Democrat from Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1898 to 1900.
Take a closer look at this ghost sign by using your mouse to scroll around the 360° pic below to look up, look down, look all around! Notice there are two images depicted in this ad… one, easy to distinguish, is of course the iconic “Bull”… the other, which the bull is superimposed over, shows a silhouette of a Navy Seaman in a Battleship’s Crow’s Nest manning a machine gun.
And here is a link to a Google Tour of the ghost sign with “Points of Interest” that link to more information about the art and surrounding area. Click on the photo to take the tour… or just click the link below!
The Old Spaghetti Factory sign is the first example on this site of a “Ghost Sign“. A ghost sign is an old hand-painted advertising sign that has been preserved on a building for an extended period of time. Ghost signs are also called fading ads or brick ads.
Many ghost signs from the 1890s to 1960s are still visible. Such signs were most commonly used in the decades before the Great Depression and were originally painted with oil-based house paints. The paint that has survived the test of time most likely contains lead, which keeps it strongly adhered to the masonry surface. The painters of the signs were called “wall dogs“.
This drones eye view of ghost sign for The Old Spaghetti Factory, is on the East side of the SoHo loft condominium building at 8th and Central, in Kansas City, Missouri. This building, the Armour-Volker Building was once the home of the Volker Frame and Molding factory. Compared to most ghost signs in Kansas City, this one is fairly recent… The Old Spaghetti Factory was open in KC during the 70’s and 80’s, but has been closed for 25-30 years.
And here is a link to a Google Tour of the Mural with “Points of Interest” that links to more information about the art and surrounding area. Click on the photo to take the tour… or just click the link below!