Stockton Ghost Signs
Disclaimer! Informational page only, I do sell, lease or manage Commercial Real Estate.
Stockton is a great place to see old ghost signs, while many people think of Stockton is a run-down old city best known for it's high crime
rate, extensive foreclosures and scorching hot summer temperatures. For me it's a living museum of history, full of beautiful old historic,
and sometimes vacant, and several with signs painted right on the buildings,
I'm not promoting these businesses, Just the signs.
There are vintage signs of neon, and old restaurants and cafes still serving food identical to way they have been for 50 years or more.
Similar to other towns in the California Central Valley, the era right after World War II Stockton had explosive growth of it's suburbs along
with literal abandonment of Stockton's central downtown. Freeways were rapidly built, shifting traffic away from the former highway routes,
which lead to business decline business along those routes. Signs are on this page for their vintage painted signs, history or perhaps even
A ghost sign is an old hand-painted advertising signage that has been preserved on a building for an extended period of time. The signage may
be kept for its nostalgic appeal, or simply indifference by the owner.
Ghost signs are found across the world with the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada having many surviving examples. Ghost
signs are also called fading ads and brickads. In many cases these are advertisements painted on brick that remained over time. Old painted
advertisements are occasionally discovered upon demolition of later-built adjoining structures. Throughout rural areas, old barn advertisements
continue to promote defunct brands and quaint roadside attractions.
Many ghost signs from the 1890s to 1960s are still visible. Such signs were most commonly used in the decades before the Great Depression.
The painters of the signs were called "wall dogs." As signage advertising formats changed, less durable signs appeared in the later 20th century,
and ghost signs from that era are less common.
Ghost signs were originally painted with oil based house paints. The paint that has survived the test of time most likely contains lead which
keeps it strongly adhered to the masonry surface. Ghost signs were often preserved through reprinting the entire sign since the colors often
fade over time. When ownership changed, a new sign would be painted over the old one.
Conservators today are being asked to preserve the original signs rather than painting over them. New products for consolidation are available
that structurally stabilize both the components of the paint and the masonry substrate. The website Preservation Science discusses research,
pertinent to ghost signs, that went into preserving the paint on the exterior of the Building Museum in Washington DC. The historic Old Town
District in Fort Collins, Colorado recently undertook a ghost sign rehabilitation project that was very successful for the community. A Coca-
Cola sign from 1958 in Old Town was preserved and touched up to make it more legible. The conservation treatment saturated the original colors
bringing back the intensity of the design. It also made the underlying signs more visible to the naked eye.