Keeping ghost signs in old downtowns but
without legal hassles
BOZEMAN, Mont. – Many towns have old advertisements painted on the sides of brick buildings. In Salida, Colo., for example, you can still see a giant pitch for Snow Drift, a laundry detergent, as well as signs hawking Coca-Cola.
In Bozeman, Mont., they’re called ghost signs. But retaining the fading relics has been a hassle. Now, according to the Daily Chronicle, the city commissioners are preparing to adopt legal changes that make retaining the ghost signs less of a hassle as historic buildings are redeveloped.
The redevelopment of one such building has triggered the city’s regulations limiting the sizes of commercial signs, requiring a variance and an application fee.
“These kinds of community signs really do put us in touch with our roots,” said Mayor Jeff Krauss. “If you’re preserving history, we want to make sure we’re not making it harder to do.”
In Salida, ghost signs came up several years ago when somebody wanted to paint over a Pepsi sign on the side of a brick wall. Salida, reports city planner Kristi Jefferson, has rules that prohibit painting of bare, brick building sides if they have not been previously painted, but no laws against painting on signs, such as those in the photo above.