Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Fading Advertisements: Lancaster and Dayton, Ohio

Coming across fading advertisements everywhere now. Some Ohio signs found in places other than home.

Mail Pouch Tobacco - Lancaster, Ohio

I'd been to Lancaster before, crossing through on trips between Columbus and Athens when I was at Ohio University for a time. Some of the earliest posts here on QC/D being about abandonments found nearby. Lancaster has a beautiful downtown featuring good food and coffee. It's a charming place to explore and come across things like this Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisement:

When I tell people about my documentation of fading ads/"ghost signs," Mail Pouch Tobacco always comes up. The classic brand is commonly found painted on barns. It's become a symbol of Americana. Websites are dedicated to finding and listing all of them, some people even restore them or paint new ones. Go into a Cracker Barrel gift shop and you'll find several refrigerator magnets featuring Mail Pouch on barns. I can see why these come up in conversation, but interestingly enough, you won't find nearly as many old Mail Pouch ads in urban areas as opposed to rural areas.

From 1809 to 1992, the Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company of West Virginia sponsored the barn advertisement campaign that across the country and become a country culture icon. Most of the signs simply read "Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco Treat Yourself To The Best," although this one in Lancaster's downtown area seems to differ a bit on top of not being found against a barn. It's actually two different signs. If you look closely, you can see the word “DROPS” shining through behind the actual Mail Pouch ad. Some other nondescript detail above indicates that the older ad may have even been taller at one point. It's an interesting artifact linking a resurgent downtown with its more rural roots.

Wayne Ave - Dayton, OH

We came across this one while searching for a morning pick-me-up in Dayton, Ohio. Directly across from the excellent Press Coffee Bar, this is one of the more elaborate hand painted signs I've ever seen. While it never mentions the company name in the mural, it depicts a very detailed, idyllic scene of what dealing with their business was allegedly like. Below text reading “PLUMBING AND HEATING PRODUCTS,” satisfied customers show off their products at their home and offices while consumers strut along a tree-lined street to reach the show room.

Someone later added their own artistic contribution to the narrative that makes the whole shopping experience a little more risque:

Although someone attempted to cover it, a signature near the sidewalk credits Cotter Advertising as having created this mural in 1987. Cotter is now known as Signs By Web, and while they offer plenty of signage products for sale on their site, hand painting doesn't seem to be one of them.

The company actually being advertised was a location of Hughes Supply, a wholesale distributor of plumbing and HVAC products. The building itself dates back to 1868 and was purchased by the city of Dayton in 2013. Located in the heart of the city’s Oregon District, the building was purchased in hopes of being redeveloped into residential space one day. Tax credits came in 2014 and the building was eventually transferred to developers who announced in Spring 2016 that Louisville based restaurant Troll Pub Under The Bridge would be one of the ground floor tenants below 40 loft-style apartments.

I haven’t been able to find it again, but saw a video on Instagram recently showing this ghost sign being painted over.  I assume the idyllic scene, phallic graffiti and all, is now gone.

Ever since publishing Fading Ads of Cincinnati, I've been finding these kinds of signs everywhere I go. Should be adding more to the site here in the future.

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