Vintage Signs and Ghost Signs

Over the last few years I’ve notice a decline in vintage signs and ghost signs. Its to the point where I’ll see an old building with an old sign hanging over the store front or a sign on the pole on one trip and then on the next trip the sign is gone or someone has painted over that valuable sign!

Luckily many of these old signs are valuable to collectors or valuable to someone for sentimental reasons and these collectors purchase these signs as fast as they can. Eventually they end up in private collections hidden in man caves or hanging on side of private building.

The ones that don’t end up in private collections, are destroyed, painted over to display another business logo or they are repurposed.

Ghost signs are a bit different. Those are a bit harder to collect. Ghost signs are the old signs you see painted on old brick and wooden buildings of businesses that went out of business decades ago. These signs are faded or see several layers of old painted signs are showing through. If the building still stands and is in use, many businesses and building owners will paint over the signs or add their own signage over it.

Luckily many cities and historical groups are actively working to preserve and restore these old signs.

Today I wanted to share some of the vintage signs and ghost signs I have photographed over the years. I recently started digitally collected these old signs as far back as 2013 and now I stop whenever I see one that I love or needs to be digitally preserved.

Vintage Signs and Ghost Signs


Mary Allen College - Vintage Sign

Mary Allen College - Vintage Signs

The first sign sits in front of the long time abandoned Mary Allen Seminary in the small town of Crockett Texas. The sign is faded out but you can still see the old faded out words saying the school is Mary Allen College. At one time this little sign was lit up with neon. I would have loved to see this sign in its prime.


Next up is the Arnold Cotton Co. Sign in downtown Crockett, Texas. This sign is a simple neon sign attached to the store front of an abandoned or non used row building. The first time I saw this sign was in 2013. In 2014, I passed through town again and stopped to take some pictures. Sadly this old sign was removed  sometime between late 2014 and May of 2015. I would love to know what happened to it.

Bonham Steam Laundry and Cleaners

In June of 2013 my wife and I did a day trip to Paris, Texas to explore the old drive-in and few other places. On the way there, we explored parts of Bonham, Texas. On the way out of town, we came across the Bonham Steam Laundry and Cleaners Sign. I do not remember seeing a building nearby that belonged to the service. This old sign could be as old the 1930s. I found an old newspaper article with an ad for them from 1939.

The Abandoned 271 Drive-In Theater in Paris, Texas

When we found the old drive-in Paris, Texas it was to overgrown to explore but we did look around a bit. On back of the screen near the entrance there’s a severely damaged neon sign hidden behind the trees. Back when the old drive-in was open, this sign got the attention of those passing by.

Celina Ice & Cold Storage CO.

While exploring Celina, Texas in June 2013, we found the old Celina Ice & Cold Storage. The words are just painted on. There’s a painted metal sign attached to the building, but that’s a newer sign and was probably added after the building became another business.

In November 2013 while exploring downtown Natchez, MS we came across a ton of old ghost signs. Some of them looked restored and others were nice and faded and at the top of old buildings.

On another road trip to Honey Grove, Texas I came across the old Bonham Drive-In Theatre in Bonham, Texas. These pictures were taken in August 2014. All that’s left of the drive-in is the sign. For the longest time the old ticket booth was still standing. But when a new business came in they tore it down and put up a fence. The last time I saw the sign, it was in need of some restoration.

In August of 2014 work sent me to Oklahoma for a week. On the way home I head west in to rural Oklahoma cut down into Texas near Wichita Falls where I stopped to visit the old Triple DDD Motel and Triple DDD Cafe. Both buildings are closed forever. The current owner uses the property for storage.

During a work trip to Mexico, Missouri I stumbled upon these old signs in a small town in Oklahoma. The hotel is still there but looks to be out of business. Mr. B’s is long gone and only the sign and the building are left. They were taken in September 2014.

The Abandoned Palace Theater in Anson, Texas

Then in November 2014 work sent me to Anson, Texas for a week. During that week I explored the old Palace Theater. This once beautiful one screen theater is in sad shape.

Brazos Motel in Granbury, Texas (Demolished)

In April 2015, a photographer friend and I went on a 2 day road trip exploring Texas Hill Country and parts of west Texas.  All that is left of the Brazos Motel in Granbury , Texas is the vintage sign. It was built in 1953.

One of last stops was in the small town of Coleman, Texas.While exploring downtown, I came across two local signs and love them. These businesses are long gone, but the row buildings still exist and look to be full of storage.

Vintage Pepsi Cola Sign in the West End in Dallas, Texas

During a photo walk in downtown Dallas, Texas and the West End area I came across this old Pepsi sign. I would love to see this old sign restored.  The pictures were taken in June 2015.

West End Market Place


Across the street from the old Pepsi sign is the West End Market Place and sitting on top of the old warehouse sits its sign and water tanks wrapped in neon. They still work! This abandoned warehouse/mall has a long history in the West End. Hopefully the old building will be saved.

The Red Pegus - Downtown Dallas

After sunset we headed over to the Omni Hotel on the other side of downtown and took pictures of the old red Pegasus sign. Over 80 years ago the Red Pegasus flew over the old Magnolia Oil Co building and could be seen from miles away. It became a symbol for Dallas and when the old sign was replaced for a younger and fancier model the old one disappeared. After months of the research and restoration the original red Pegasus flies again

The Plaza Theatre in Garland, Texas

In my home town of Garland, Texas the city officials and historical groups have put a lot of work in restoring the downtown areas. One of the buildings that was restored was the old Plaza Theatre. I took this shot in July 2015. I plan to go back at some point reshoot the old church from a better spot.

About the Images

All images were taken by me and different cameras were used to take them. I used mostly Adobe Lightroom, Topaz Clarity, and Google Nik Collection to edit the images. As always my images are available for purchase with or without the watermark.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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