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Ghost Signs

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This Coca-Cola sign in Downtown Fort Collins was conserved and preserved for the future.

City Garners tHREE Awards for preservation of Coca-Cola Sign

American Association for State and Local History
The American Association for State and Local History proudly announces the City of Fort Collins is the recipient of an Award of Merit for the preservation and interpretation of the Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen Sign. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. The award ceremony is part of a special banquet, hosted by The History Channel, during AASLH’s annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, on Friday, September 20. Read the news release.

History Colorado
In February 2013, we received our eighth Stephen H. Hart Award in recognition for our restoration efforts of Downtown’s Coca-Cola ghost sign. The Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen sign is located on the east wall of the J.L. Hohnstein Block at 220 East Mountain Avenue, adding historic charm to CooperSmith’s Pub & Brewing’s patio. The Stephen H. Hart award is given by the Board of Directors of History Colorado (formerly the Colorado Historical Society) and recognizes outstanding projects and individual achievements in historic preservation throughout Colorado. From a select group of awardees, one exceptional project is chosen each year to receive the Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation. In addition to the City, property owner Ed Stoner, preservationist Carol Tunner and painting conservator Deborah Uhl were recognized for their efforts. The work included comprehensive documentation of the sign, paint and mortar analysis, brick repointing, and, prior to restoration, exhaustive research into paints, consolidates, and coatings. The sign was originally painted in 1958 by local sign painter Dan Brown, who was paid $400 for his work. In 1958, the tenants of the building were Mary and Jess Angell, who operated a deli at this location through the 1960s. As was common practice, the Coca-Cola Company agreed to paint the name of the business, “Angell’s Delicatessen,” in the sign in exchange for the privilege of advertising Coca-Cola on the building’s wall. Previous preservation awards include the restoration of the trolley and trolley system, restoration of the old waterworks building on Overland Trail, and for the Taco Bell at the corner of College and Prospect. Check out the pictures from the awards ceremony.

Fort Collins Urban Design Award
In October 2013, the City of Fort Collins awarded Carol Tunner and Deborah Uhl a Fort Collins Urban Design Award.

Old Town Coca-Cola Sign Saved with New Technology and State Grant

In September 2011, scaffolding appeared around the large Coca-Cola/Angell’s Delicatessen sign painted on the east wall of the historic building home to Coopersmith's Pub in Downtown Fort Collins. Thanks to a grant received by the State Historical Fund in 2009, this "ghost sign" got a lot of conservation and a little restoration to ensure this faded advertisement from 1958 keeps Old Town looking historic. To the untrained eye, the sign looks almost unchanged. In reality, the technology relaxed and re-adhered the paint to the brick, and protects it from further fading and chipping so we all can enjoy the sign for many years to come. Funding for this project was a collaborative effort between the Colorado State Historic Fund, the Downtown Development Authority, and the City of Fort Collins.

The Conservation

The City issued a Request for Proposals for a professional with expertise in architectural and paint conservation. Experienced preservation conservator Deborah Uhl from Ethereality was selected. After extensive research, a conservation process was developed. First, the masonry will be repaired and the surface cleaned. Next, an application of Beva D-8 will give the existing paint in small selected areas a plasticity allowing it to lie flat where it is peeling off. A revolutionary product, Avalure, will follow to both consolidate and re-saturate the painted brick exterior. This will protect the sign, preventing any further deterioration. Avalure is an accelerated aging, tested product used in 2006 on the painted brick National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. In addition, small missing elements such as the artist’s signature block which have been stripped by abrasion on lower parts of the wall will be in-painted to look old. Then a protective railing will be installed to prevent any further damage to the sign, and an historic plaque added.

The Sign's History

“Ghost Signs” are the faded historical advertising signs painted on the brick walls of old buildings. The Coca-Cola/Angell's Delicatessen Sign was painted in 1958 by local sign painter Dan Brown, who received $400. At the time the sign was painted, the tenants of the J.L. Hohnstein Block were Mary B. and Jess Angell, who operated a deli at this location through the 1960s. As was common practice, the Coca-Cola Company agreed to paint the name of their business, Angell's Delicatessen, in the sign in exchange for the "privilege" of advertising their product on the building's wall.