Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ghost Signs of Oshkosh

Ghost signs are those faded, painted advertisements – often for a discontinued product or an obsolete trademark – that you see on the exterior walls of old buildings. Oshkosh has a number of ghost signs including the enormous Quaker Oats sign on the side of Murray's Irish Pub at 103 Algoma. Another good example is the blanched, towering sign for Castle-Pierce Printing at 103 High.

But, as always, we’re here for the beer so let’s head south to 1329 Oregon Street. Here you can see a classic example of a ghost sign. It’s an advertisement for Chief Oshkosh Beer fading away on the north wall of the Acee Deucee Lounge. This is a fitting place for such a sign. The building  dates from 1876 and might be the oldest tavern structure in Oshkosh. The original saloon was run by John Koplitz; it was also his home and a grocery store. Herbert Pollnow bought the bar in 1944 and the tavern has been in the Pollnow family ever since.

Now to the East Side and 709 Otter where Tony’s Deluxe features a sign that appears lost in time. Tony’s sign for Chief Oshkosh Beer may not qualify as a true ghost sign, as it has been maintained over the years and remains in pretty good shape. In fact, it’s a little startling to see an antiquated sign in this condition. By the looks of it, you’d think you could walk into the bar and order a “Chief” any day of the week. Like Acee Deucee, Tony’s has a good story. Prior to prohibition, there was a saloon at the location and when prohibition kicked-in the tavern began listing itself as a retailer of “soft drinks”. Although it’s difficult to verify, the place was almost certainly a speakeasy. Anton Lux bought the business in 1928, naming it Tony’s Deluxe. In 1933, the year prohibition finally collapsed, Lux went back to selling beer and then liquor - legally, that is.

If you have a ghost sign to share leave a comment with a location and a brief description.

And if you’d like to learn more about the Acee Deucee, check out this LINK to the great Oshkosh blog, Riding the Tavern Beer Trail.

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