text and photos by Lynne Rostochil
As a photographer, I love to snap all kinds of things — people, architecture, abandonment, old cars — but perhaps most of all I love to photograph old and weathered painted signs that grace mostly brick buildings. These faded signs from yesteryear that advertise long-gone businesses or products are known as ghost signs, and if you look, you can find them hiding on sides of buildings all around the Metro. Here’s just a small sampling:
These two ghosts are among my favorites and both call the old Motor Hotel on Hudson and Sheridan in downtown home. (Do you see that great Standard Oil emblem on the left in the bottom photo? Love, love, love it! By the way, the ghost reads, “You expect more from Standard, and you get it. Motor Hotel. Entrance on Hudson”). Built in the ’40s, the parking garage sits next door to what was once the Hotel Black and (fingers crossed) and may soon be a 21c Museum Hotel.
This Coca-Cola ghost was located on the side of an abandoned building at Western and Britton, but you can’t see it anymore because “they” (whoever that is) tore down the structure earlier this year.
Who doesn’t love the sadly deteriorating Hotel Marion and hasn’t dreamed of saving this relic of the earliest days of Oklahoma City? Well, it looks like it’s finally going to be restored and when it is, I hope the developers choose to leave this great ghost of the Marion’s former glory just the way it is.
It looks like it’s been a long time since anyone ate at this lonely cafe at NW 4th and Western.
And, there’s still a hint of a Cadillac ghost at the old Greenlease-Moore Cadillac on the outskirts of downtown on N. Walker.
Sometimes, long-forgotten ghosts suddenly reappear. Here, this treasure of a ghost on the old Paramount building in Film Row was uncovered a few years ago when the ’50s-era siding was removed — unbelievably, the siding (seen in the photo) covered the entire building, including the lovely windows.
Another sign that was recently uncovered and saved is this very rare Coca-Cola gem from the ’20s. The yellow carton was the original color and dates to 1923; within a few years, it was replaced with the red that we recognize today. The sign rested behind siding on the old Le’Ora’s Beautye Salon in Deep Deuce and was revealed when the building was being demolished last year. Luckily, word got out quickly about the possible demolition of the sign, and Retro Metro members quickly took action and saved the sign before it could be hauled away to a dump. Yay!
Along the tracks in Automobile Alley is this great find, an old ghost that harkens back to the days when Oklahoma City had (at least in name) more than one daily paper. The Times-Journal was created in 1889 when two rival newspapers merged. The paper changed hands many times before OPUBCO bought it in 1916 at a foreclosure sale; thereafter, it was the Oklahoman’s evening supplement until the Times was discontinued for good in 1984. The Times-Journal may be long gone, but the ghost is still there.
With old vacuum cleaners stacked in its dusty and dirty windows, it doesn’t take too much imagination to recall when this building at NW 23rd and Classen was home to your friendly, neighborhood Hoover dealer and repairman.
And, although I really like the funkiness of The Womb, I have to say that I have a longing for this, the ghost-ridden Mel’s Towing building (that originally started life in 1947 as a Studebaker dealership). It was such a delight to wander by and fantasize about the dozens of dusty cars peeking their heads through the equally dusty windows.
There are a lot of great ghosts in Bricktown, but this one with a dramatic view of downtown is my favorite.
Well, that’s it for today, but I’ll be sharing more of my ghostly finds with you soon.