Painted Adverts and Ghost Signs, Texas, USA.

The wonderful tradition of painting signs on walls may be dying out around the world in general and in the USA in particular, but it is amazing how many such signs can still be encountered, especially in places where respect for old structures persists, or where financial constraints deny developers the opportunity to replace old buildings with modern ones. Our recent trip to Texas revealed that many painted signs survive in the Lone Star State. Below is a selection of old and not-so-old painted signs from Nacogdoches, Pilot Point, Fort Worth, Abilene, Lockhart, Bastrop and Giddings.

Painted signs are most commonly referred to as painted adverts or, if old and fading, ghost signs. Here in the UK, Love Local Landmarks, an English Heritage-backed project, has been successful in gaining local listing status for two of Hackney’s most famous ghost signs (Hackney is a borough in north London). The Blooms Piano sign and the Waterman’s Fountain Pen sign on Stoke Newington’s Church Street have been singled out for their aesthetic or artistic merit, and for their historical significance. The impact of the listing is that the borough council must now “think about their heritage significance when considering planning applications that affect them.”

This is great news. I hope that many other painted signs secure similar protection around the world.


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