Barr’s Loans Ghost Sign in Over-the-Rhine

Barr's Loans Ghost Sign in Over-the-Rhine

This grungy, distressed ghost sign is located on Vine St. between 12th and 13th, right in the heart of the fancifying “Gateway Quarter.” Guitars, shot guns, rifles, watches, radios, TVs, new/used clothing… Something-something while shopping at Barr’s. I’m just documenting it here in case someone decides to paint over it.

Barr's Loans Ghost Sign in Over-the-Rhine


9 thoughts on “Barr’s Loans Ghost Sign in Over-the-Rhine

  1. I see this sign all the time, my buddy owns a condo across the street from this. I hope they keep it just the way it is – don’t paint over it and don’t repaint it, let it fade with the other signs throughout OTR.

  2. Oh, I hope nobody paints over it too, unless possibly it becomes the distressed back drop of an artworks mural where the ample negative space reveals the texture of the sign….maybe 🙂

  3. It is quite nice as is. And I certainly wouldn’t want to be the artist to attempt to do anything that encroaches on the space even slightly, because of course, it could go terribly wrong with something irreplaceable and beautiful. I just have this strange hiccup in my brain that likes to think of possibilities outside perceived rules (rules like: beautiful pieces of history should never be bothered) Even if the most reasonable thing is to leave it alone, I like to imagine that there’s someone out there that could create something relevant and appropriate to accompany that piece of history.

    Thanks for documenting!

  4. If you bump the contrast and exposure, the sign seems to read
    “1 HOUR FREE PARKING” … while shopping at Barr’s

    elizabeth brings up an interesting question – to paint or not to paint? surely a well-meaning and sensitive artist could showcase this in a respectful and redeeming way (as opposed to either complete destruction or renewal). reminds me of Shinji Turner-Yamamoto’s Hanging Garden — how do you become a part of the history of a place, and re-contextualize (as we do naturally) without re-writing it along the way?

    In any case, the brick wall needs some work. The property owner will have to take a stand on this public art one way or another.

  5. At some point, I’m sure the property owner will decide to repoint the brick, and this will disappear.

    I seem to remember reading about an initiative [in Oakland, maybe?] preserving ghost signs. On some level, that makes sense to a type-nerd like myself, because I love this kind of stuff. On another, the ephemeral nature of these old signs is part of their beauty to me, so how would you decide on the point of optimal degradation to preserve? Or, would you repaint them, when they’re no longer current informational or promotional vehicles? And, if you do somehow intervene, however artistically, is that really appropriate?

    I do have one example of a ghost sign being covered up by a kick-ass mural in Cincinnati. In that case, I think the mural was an improvement of a wall, even though I’m a fan of ghost signs.

  6. I’d swing in favor of at least some signs being preserved, and would love to learn more about that initiative…I will investigate! Though i do understand the other side of enjoying their impermanence and phases of transition.

    And I think their value is MUCH deeper than what they literally say. They enrich the neighborhood through all the vehicles you mentioned…the interesting old type, their patina in contrast to the renovated surroundings, but also what that era has to teach us…it’s relative slow pace, the value of handicraft, and living in a society that is less disposable. I guess if a new art work interacted with one of these old signs, I’d like to see it speak to those values in some tasteful way. But perhaps the values are explicit enough in the signs alone. There’s certainly enough other walls in Cincinnati without pre-existing beautiful things on them to work on first…

    But when that old sign gets maimed by repairing the brick, that’s when i’d be more confident about the idea of letting an artist loose on the wall, with the hope that whatever is salvageable of the sign gets saved and reemerges in a thoughtful, contemporary context.

    I love the Campy Washington mural too! I didn’t know that it covered a ghost sign…

  7. I do agree that there’s the deeper value of seeing your particular moment in time as a point on a line, and ghost signs helps us see that we’re just a small part of history. That’s what I most appreciate about them — they may be obsolete, but they give us an incomplete history of the neighborhood, it stores, and its family names.

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