City Offers FREE Tours to See the Conservation in Action!
Over the next several weeks, scaffolding will appear around the huge 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" is getting 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 will look almost unchanged. In reality, the technology will relax and adhere the paint to the brick, and protect it from further fading and chipping so we all can enjoy the sign for many years to come. Funding for this project is a collaborative effort between the State Historical Fund, the Downtown Development Authority, the City of Fort Collins, Progressive Old Town Square LLC, and the Fort Collins Historical Society.
The sign conservation is scheduled to begin September 12 and the work should take three weeks. Throughout this short process, the public is invited to take FREE tours on Sept 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, and 24. Tours start at noon will last an hour. Please meet by the sign, outside of Coopersmith's pubside patio in Old Town Square. The conservator will also give short talks demonstrating the technology at specific times during the conservation process. For details or more information about this project, visit http://fcgov.com/ghostsigns
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 will be in-painted to look old. Lastly, a protective railing will be installed to prevent any further damage to the sign, and an historic plaque added.
Retired City Preservation Planner, Carol Tunner, grant and project manager, says, “We have done considerable research consulting the best conservators in the country, and we are excited to pioneer using their proven techniques to preserve our sign.”
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.