Spotting these faded reminders of merchants past can be more fun than a scavenger hunt. Someone either had the foresight to preserve them or the lack of funds to remove them. Either way, they remain an enticement to the architectural detective. As in our May 2011 feature, we take a look at four more “ghost signs” and the stories behind them.
Karl’s Shoes – 2636 E. Colorado Boulevard (1948-9)
Whoever Karl was, he was not fond of the apostrophe. This terrazzo threshold dates from either 1948 or 1949, judging from Pasadena city directories. Karl’s Shoes occupied the spot until the late 1950s, and a number of other businesses followed before hipster record store Poo-Bah took up residence. Like many before, they chose to leave Karl in his place.
Horton & Converse – 599 E. Colorado Boulevard (1949-53)
It’s unclear exactly when this Horton & Converse chain store opened, but judging from city directories it was some time in the early 1950s. The drugstore was fond of these entrance signs—another one still exists at 937 E. Green Street. The space is now home to an American Express office.
Pasadena Star-News – 525 E. Colorado Boulevard (1925)
For 72 years, all the important Pasadena happenings made print in this elegant Beaux Arts building—the original home of Pasadena’s longest-running newspaper. Here, typewriters clacked round the clock, churning out the day’s news, and a number of other tenants rented offices. In a building next door, mystery author Earl Derr Biggers completed his second Charlie Chan novel while listening to the din of the printing presses through the wall. (“I try to imagine that I am out to make the next edition,” he wrote.) Additionally, the first national radio broadcast was transmitted here in 1926, from a tower that used to stand atop the building. In 1997, the paper moved its headquarters to 911 E. Colorado, but “Star-News” still remains proudly imprinted above the front entrance.
John Henry + Win – 924 E. Colorado Boulevard (Date Unknown)
Renovations to the commercial block between Lake Avenue and Mentor have revealed this mysterious sign. Just who was John Henry? Who was “Win,” for that matter? Pasadena city directories contain no clue. We’ll open this one up to the readers.