Sunday, September 28, 2008


The earliest known rock paintings are dated to the Upper Paleolithic, 40,000 years ago, while the earliest European cave paintings date to 32,000 years ago. So Wikipedia assures us. We aren't doing nearly so well with our public paint jobs, the oldest of which appear to be plain business signs on brick walls. I began this collection while I was visiting in Memphis. It's a city much of whose past is no longer useful and so it sits there, wearing out as it awaits the wrecking ball.
In this one case, an exception was made, incorporating a wee tidbit of history into the waterfront gentrification project. (BTW, I just noticed that the cotton factor owner's name remains barely visible at the top of the renovated building.)

Since we do not really have the remains of any past industry in downtown Prescott, at first, I feared I wouldn't find similar ghosts of our past. Cortez Street proved me wrong! The first sign I discovered was an old Head Hotel ID, visible from the north. Of course, I reasoned, the new owners have not yet bothered to paint over it. Besides, it was only quite recently that the name of the venerable hotel was changed. In any event, I was quite wrong; I suspect it was deliberately retained...

...because I found these other remnants of the past when I lifted my eyes higher than the shop windows on yesterday's walk. In every case, I was looking south along Cortez. The above sign probably referred to Valley Natl. Bank which occupied the building at the NE corner of Gurley and Cortez until 1957. As for the Prescott Hotel (below), never heard of it. However, it's pretty obvious that these painted signs have been deliberately preserved. Does anyone know of other such ghosts around the downtown area?

There is one more ghost of Prescott past just east of the Sullivan Lake dam. Too bad we lost the railroad. According to information that Marc Pearsall compiled in 2007 while working for the Arizona Department of Transportation, the railroad offered to sell the entire 28-mile Prescott Branch line, with rolling stock and locomotives, to the community for about $700,000, but the city could not come up with the money. So reports the Prescott Courier. Ah, if only we had known then what we know now, we would have one less ghost.


meggie said...

Your photos reminded me of many ghost buildings I have seen, in New Zealand & also here in Australia. I feel sad to see the boarded over windows, as if the building has lost it's soul.

TomboCheck said...

The head hotel has another faded sign in the alley-way.

And if you can get a high enough vantage (I think the second story of the Raven might be about right) there is what I believe to be an old dairy advertisement on another cortez building.

Although it isn't old, there is a real estate sign painted on the north-east corner of gurley/cortez (The Ranch at Prescott, I think?)

When we did some touristing around the older cities of Arkansas we saw the same type wall advertisements, though I'm guessing they were kept around just for the tourists more than anything else.

Anonymous said...

Well, Harley Granny J, me thinks if you keep walking around and looking up, you'll find even more faded signs on other streets, not just on Cortez.

We finally had a thunderstorm today! The sky looked like AZ; I got homesick!

~Anon in AV.

Granny J said...

Meggie -- I don't know which are the sadder -- the buildings with windows boarded up or those with the broken glass. I guess that the latter are the dying.

tombo -- I knew I could count on you to provide a few more locations! My guess is that historic preservation is the reason that those old signs have remained, inasmuch as both the former Head Hotel and the Downtown Athletic Club buildings are painted on the south-facing walls.

anon av -- when are you moving back to AZ?

Anonymous said...

I really like old abandoned falling down buildings - modern ruins, I call 'em - ; atmosphere, I guess.
The second one down w/Allied Van Lines would be my favorite in the 'modern ruins' category, but I really like the cotton place being renovated, too. Looks like well-to-do squatters!;-)
That last one, of the old lonely train bridge; atmosphere again.

Granny J said...

mr. enigma -- I often wonder how long our modern ruins will last compared to, say, the pueblos at Mesa Verde or the temples at Angkor Wat.

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