Thursday, December 31, 2009

Vintage Portland

Please come visit my new Vintage Portland site. I'm publishing some great photos of old Portland from the city's archives. Very high quality stuff. Leave comments and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


It's hard to tell what this sign once said. Apparently the front of the building was removed and pushed back during a widening of N. Interstate Avenue some time in the past, destroying part of the sign in the process. The building dates to 1912 and can be seen at N. Interstate and N. Lewis Avenue.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Columbia I. & S.

This old factory building carries a sign from a long-gone company. "Columbia Iron & Steel" maybe? "Insulation Sales/Contracting" is visible farther down the wall. It's on the east side of the building at N. Interstate and Tillamook.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Brooks Showcase & Fixture Co.

On the same building as my previous post, "BROOKS SHOWCASE & FIXTURE CO." still shows quite well across the top of the south wall. Also visible are traces of other long-forgotten signs, including a repeat of the unknown from my previous post. Removing a bit of foliage would help our hunt.

Over the northwest-facing entrance is,

See it at N. Interstate and Knott.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Credit Gladly

This great "CREDIT GLADLY" sign is part of a larger advertisement that is all but completely covered by a modern billboard. Sad. The ad beneath looks to be in fine condition so we can always hold out hope that the building owner respects the sign and one day we'll see it again. Incidentally, the hidden sign is at least partially duplicated on the south side of this building; foliage covers most of it and makes it unreadable too.

This 1890 building is at N. Interstate and Knott, one block north of N. Russell Street.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Alt Heidelberg Lager Beer

Smithson-McKay Brothers Block, 1890

A fine old beer advertisement. Apparently in the early 1930s Heidelberg dropped the female figure of Columbia from its advertising in favor of the "Student Prince" image, with beer stein, shown here. They dropped the "Alt" from their name in 1953 so this sign probably originated between the early 30s and 1953.

This sign can be difficult to see, tucked behind its neighboring building on a busy street with few sidewalks. But slow down and look to your left as you approach N. Russell Street heading south on N. Interstate. Stop in at the Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub or check out their state-of-the-art craft brewery in this historic neighborhood.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

White Eagle

White Eagle Cafe & Saloon, 1905

Hard to say how long these signs have been here. The left-hand "White Eagle" and Coca-Cola sign have been in place for many decades. The green "Saloon & Hotel" probably dates to when the McMenamins chain took over the place a quarter century ago.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sam Moy & Co.

Davis Block Building, 1890

A classic sign with a unique yellow background:
Special Weave Cloth

This is on the side of the Davis Block Building at N. Russell and N. Albina. Stop in and get some natty Headlight Overalls.


(International Association of Machinists, 1916)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Merle's Carburetor Inc

This run-down little shop has a decades-old hand-painted sign gracing its front. Classic in its styling, simple in its statement.

The "Sauter Spray Equip." sign off to the right is a more recent signage example. See them both at SE Milwaukie and Woodward.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Darby's Reducer

"Darn Tootin' I Use Darby's" is hard to miss at SE 6th and Hawthorne. Slightly faded, it's still in pretty good shape and should be visible for decades more.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Say It With Flowers

This old "Say it with Flowers" sign looks like it may date to the 1970s. Its message of romance is not in character with the industrial parking lot it overlooks at SE 6th and Salmon.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Columbia Wool Scouring Mills

Pendleton Woolen Mills bought Columbia Wool Scouring Mills in 1971. If this building is still in use, they receive raw wool fiber in fleece form here where it's graded, sorted and scoured, which is a washing process. So sometime between the sheep and your comfy blanket, the fleece/wool probably goes through this building.

The sign is quite easy to see at 2030 N. Columbia Blvd. You can also see it from the MAX train or crossing N. Denver.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apostolic Faith

Apostolic Faith Church Building, 1922

The Apostolic Faith Church built their handsome brick building at NW 6th and Burnside in 1922. They left the building in about 1982 and Starry Night (now Roseland Theater) moved in. This 6th Avenue marquee remained for another quarter century, the words "APOSTOLIC FAITH" slowly weathering away. The whole thing was replaced in 2009.

Incidentally, the front of the building was physically moved 20 feet to the north when Burnside was widened in 1930. This building also housed the "JESUS - THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD" sign on its roof, a Portland skyline fixture for many years.



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Arthur Cole Candy Co.

Look quickly! This sign is going away soon, if it's not gone already. The Arthur Cole Candy Co. has been here at NE 14th and Alberta for about 20 years but has recently moved out near the airport. The old structure is being converted to a mixed use structure with live/work units.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Repairing - Andy's Auto Service

Andy's Auto Service, 1945

This is another exception to the "painted building sign" model of this blog, since this is a hanging sign, and neon at one time to boot. But it generally follows my previous post in the garage genre so I'm including it here. This sign of unknown vintage and appropriately rusted Quonset hut (probably WWII surplus since it dates to 1945) sits on NE Hancock between MLK and NE 3rd.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A.A. Auto Repair Co.

Tom Black's Garage, 1912

This old garage has had several layers of signage over the years. Its most recent, or at least most visible, on the west wall, is:

The east wall (lower photo) seems to read:

Tom Black's Garage now occupies the building on NE Holladay St. between 25th and 25, overlooking I-84.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cafe Food

Building, 1909

Before it was Demetri's Restaurant & Lounge at the corner of West Burnside and SW 17th, it was a cafe of some sort. Demetri's threw a neon sign over part of the old sign on the west wall and painted over the rest.

Demetri's is now gone, and along with it the neon sign, leaving just a remnant of the painted sign. At least that's how it was when Samuel John Klein captured the first photo in July 2009. Even that little bit is gone now; the second photo shows it in October of 2009. Google Street View (bottom) shows how the old Demetri's neon looked.

Thanks to Sam for the use of the revealed "CAFE FOOD" photograph from his The ZehnKatzen Times blog.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Drink Coca-Cola

McPeet's Portland Pub, 1928

Originally painted circa 1940, this nice Coca-Cola sign was restored in 1997. See it on the east side of McPeet's Portland Pub at NE 45th and Fremont.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Forge Dept.

A nice old rusty industrial hand-painted sign tucked back from the road.

NW Nicolai between NW28th and 29th.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Steel Company

Pacific Machinery & Tool Steel Co, 1930

This nicely rusted and weathered "STEEL COMPANY - IRON & STEEL PRODUCTS" is on NW St. Helens Rd, just west of NW 35th Ave.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tube Forgings

Tube Forgings of America

From the corner of NW Front Avenue and NW Kittridge Avenue, you can see this unique painted sign. Nicely weathered, it towers over the Tube Forgings of America plant, this one on the south side and another facing north.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reserved - First Baptist Church

This is an easy one to miss. Nestled under a billboard, often hidden by parked cars, this old "RESERVED" sign can be found on SW 12th between Salmon and Taylor.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

CFI Update

Almost a year ago I posted this CFI - Commercial Furnishings Inc. sign that I guessed dated to the 1970s. That sign is now gone, covered by this plastic ad for Chinese sports brand Li Ning Company. CFI goes extinct at NW 10th and Hoyt.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kelly's Olympian Update

Page & Son Apartments, 1909

Curious timing on my part. I featured this grand, but new, sign in just my last post. I drove by it over the weekend and discovered it's gone. This one goes in the Extinct pile.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Kelly's Olympian

Page & Son Apartments, 1909

Following on the heels of the previous not-so-old sign is this decidedly new sign. I include it here just because I like it. It's hard to miss heading out East Burnside at NE 7th Ave.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Building, 1907

On the south side of the building featured last time is this sign. While not especially old, it's a striking image and really makes the building stand out in the neighborhood. See it at NE 6th and Couch.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

H.S. Gile Grocery Co.

Building, 1907


This nice old sign can be seen from the corner of NE 6th and Davis.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vivian Apts.

Building, 1911


The Vivian Apts. building has seen better days, and so has the sign. It was painted over another sign, unreadable now, but another is visible to the right, "MODERN 2 ROOM APARTMENTS."

The building is at NE MLK Blvd and Couch but you can see the sign from Grand Ave.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tires & Batteries

Garage, 1929

This fine old brick garage at NW 18th & Irving still shows a glimpse of its previous life from decades ago.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oregon Macaroni Mfg. Co.

Building, 1911

This is a nice old sign, obviously quite weathered over the years but still very readable. You can see this fine ghost sign at NE 8th and Davis.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

C&J Steel and Salvage

Building, 1950

This old mid-century concrete garage and its sign have taken a lot of abuse over the decades. It's probably seldom seen since it's in the far reaches of industrial northwest Portland. See it for yourself at NW 21st and York.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Free Information Center

Drivers probably saw this sign coming down the old Harbor Drive (now Tom McCall Waterfront Park) in the 1950s, directing city visitors to the John Yeon-designed Portland Visitors Information Center. It's now on a barn in Corbett, just east of Portland. Thanks to Jim for the photo donation!

Circa 1949:
OHS photo file 1871, digital no. bb005748

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Unknown Update

I featured this old sign in January 2008. At the time, I could make out only the top of it from several blocks away. Recently I was able to get this better view of it from the penthouse apartment in the 937 Condominium Building. Unfortunately I'm still unable to ready what it says, other than ending in "Company."

The building is on NW Everett between 6th and Broadway. My vantage point is high above NW 9th and Glisan.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gray-McLean Co. Update

Two years ago I showed this sign from street level, both in 1996 and in 2007 photos. I recently got a chance to see it from one of the Block 90 Condominiums and was able to see much more detail. Turns out "Gray-McLean Co." is actually "Gray McLean & Percy."

I also discovered that the Gray McLean & Percy sign was painted over an even older sign:

1921 advertisement:
Circa 1910:

Advertising Ephemera Collection - Database #A0530
Emergence of Advertising On-Line Project
John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History
Duke University Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Automotive Equipment & Tires

While on the 2009 Street of Dreams tour of the 937 Condominiums in the Pearl District, I was able to get a picture of this sign which is only partially visible from the street. The "CERTAIN-TEED PRODUCTS" (reviewed here) has always been easily visible but from the 16th floor I got a full-on view of:

The first photo is a closeup of the automotive sign, the second is a wider angle shot of the entire wall. The building is on NW 10th between Flanders and Glisan.