Ghost Signs of Spokane

The Ghost Signs tour is a student-led project that cataloged the signs painted on the sides of the downtown buildings. In addition to this digital tour, students created a walking tour complete with a pamphlet.

Welcome to the Ghost Signs Tour

Advertising is not a new phenomenon in America. Print advertising for goods and services goes as far back as the seventeenth century with the spread of literacy in the colonial period. The urbanization of the mid-1800s created an explosion of brick…

J&D Paints

The faded J&D Paints advertisement on the side of this building describes more than paint, it is a relic of a time when Spokane was a city of neighborhoods, each with its own miniature commercial district. As the population of Spokane grew in…

Blair Business College

At the corner of First and Post Streets stands a squat brick building upon which is painted "Blair Business College." The faded sign is visible from blocks away, but few people understand its importance to the educational system of Spokane…

The Columbus Buggy Company and Child Bros. & Day

This ordinary brick building on the corner of Lincoln and Railroad Alley stands as a reminder of the growth of business in early Spokane. Built in 1898 by the merchants Rasher and Kingman, it is one of two buildings that remain from their…

The Crescent Service Building

At the turn of the 20th century, Spokane boomed as a wealthy trade and industrial center in the Inland Northwest. Like all growing cities, there was a demand for imported goods. The Crescent Department Store was there to meet the demand. Founded by…

Bump Block and the Hotel Carlyle

This towering structure of brick was one of the first to be built following the Great Fire of 1889. The Bump Block, constructed in 1890, is a seven-story Commercial Style infused with more classical features. This historic building enjoyed a couple…

F.A. Williams Pioneer Ford

Before the automobile, Spokane moved at a much slower pace. Across America, city streets were filled with pedestrians, horses, buggies, and streetcars-- all moving at speeds below 10 mph. Like many cities, street life changed with the introduction of…

The Washington Cracker Company

The Washington Cracker Company building, which still stands at the corner of Bernard and Pacific Streets, is one of the most visible reminders of Spokane's foray into the industrial world. Its high visibility is due in part to the painted…

Commission Building

Constructed in 1906 by James M. Geraghty, the Commission Building was one of Spokane's early produce warehouses. Built for the Rasher-Kingman-Herrin Company, the Commission Building stored and distributed wholesale perishable produce to nearby…

Fairmont Creamery and Cold Storage

On the outskirts of Spokane's Central Business District lies a scattering of brick warehouses littered with the fading signs of a different era, including one advertising the Fairmont Creamery and Cold Storage. Most of the buildings in this…

The Saranac Hotel

Originally a Single Room Occupancy Hotel (SRO), the Saranac provided housing for hundreds of working-class laborers migrating to Spokane during a time of emerging industries. Built in 1910 by Coulee City businessman Hiram H. Hutton, the Saranac Hotel…

Jensen-Byrd Warehouse

In 1909 the Minnesota hardware company, Marshall Wells, hired the Minnesota native and Spokane resident Albert Held to design their Spokane warehouse. This building was designed as a warehouse at a time in which all goods were traveled by rail to a…

Henry George Cigars

There is a striking ghost sign painted on the east side of the building at 27 West Main Street (now Harmon Autoglass) that suggests the rough-and-tumble character of the neighborhood in the 1910s when it was painted. It is an advertisement for Henry…

The Globe Hotel

The railroad lines, and the limitless job opportunities that came with them, brought a great number of families to the Inland Northwest in search for better lives. Seeing the need for inexpensive housing, inland investor Henry Sorg built the Globe…

Frederick/Longbotham Building

Like many buildings in the East Downtown Historic District, the Frederick/Longbotham building speaks to Spokane's past through the many faded advertisements still visible on its exterior. At the top of the north, east, and west walls on the…

Boots Bakery and Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco

Don't let this bakery's cheery exterior fool you, Boots Bakery is serious about keeping things local. While renovating the space, the owners partially uncovered what is probably the best preserved ghost sign in Spokane an advertisement…

Broadview Dairy

The Broadview Dairy sign is a reminder of the importance of local dairies in turn-of-the century Spokane. Indeed, milk was a staple food in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and was delivered door to door by horse drawn carriages. Milk…