Sunday, January 27, 2013

Two Less


Photo courtesy of John Morse

Birmingham said goodbye to a pair of ghost signs this past week. The Grayson Rose Transmission signs on 6th Avenue South, with their cheerful "Friendly Grayson" mascot, vanished under a new coat of paint. The building is now part of Iron City, a new performance space (supposed to be amazing inside), which is preparing to open.

People often ask me how I feel when signs disappear in this manner. I bear no ill will toward a property owner who paints over an old sign; after all, the painted ads were never intended to last forever, and cities do change over time. However, it is sad to see a bit of color, character, and history--a little piece of Birmingham uniqueness--be replaced with a blank wall. In this case, Iron City could have used the still-vibrant Grayson Rose ads as a landmark to direct people to its doors. They certainly were worth keeping as a cool nod to the building's history. Definitely a missed opportunity.

The good news is that the signs aren't entirely gone. Ironically, the new coat of paint that hides the ads will help to preserve them by protecting them from the sun and weather. In a few decades, as the top coat fades, we'll see Friendly Grayson smile again.

I first saw these signs during a 5K race, of all things, in 2010. The sight of the colorful mascot, which had recently reappeared when siding was removed from the building, nearly stopped me in my tracks. You can learn more about the history of the Grayson Rose Transmission ads and their location in Birmingham's Automotive District in my book.

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