Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Century-Old Ghost Sign Revealed

With the demolition of the Mayfair building, we also lost the Pig 'N Whistle Pub on West 47th Street (since 1969). Its whole little building has come down. With those bricks gone, a pristine ghost sign has been revealed on the side of Night Hotel.

Photographer Aylon Samson spotted the sign and sent in the above shot. While the top part is painted over, it clearly says: "ROOMS $1.00" and "WITH BATH $1.50."

A little digging shows that the building that bears the sign was Hotel Longacre. Opened in 1904, it was a stag hotel. In its advertising, it boasted being "exclusively bachelor" and "absolutely fireproof," with amenities like a library, billiard hall, and restaurant.

The prices are those posted on the sign.

1912 advertisement

On the hotel's postcard from the year 1910 is the motto: "A Room and a Bath a Dollar and a half."

Clearly, the ghost sign belongs to the hotel. The exact date of the sign is not so easy to determine. In the postcard image and other photos, we see that the Longacre had a small brick companion already by 1910. The townhouse was set back from the hotel, leaving an open strip of brick onto which a sign could be painted -- but wasn't yet.

The demolished Pig 'N Whistle building came further forward than the townhouse. Its facade stood even with the hotel's, thus covering the ghost sign that must have been painted sometime after the 1910 photo.

Either the townhouse was demolished and replaced, or it was added onto and expanded--in the outline on the hotel, you can see the lighter space where the original townhouse stood. When that happened, I can't figure. But with the sign's prices the same as advertised in 1910, I'm going to guess it's about 100 years old.

It will soon be covered up by a glass monstrosity, buried once more, for another hundred years or longer. Enjoy it while it lasts.

*UPDATE: Aylon just sent in another shot, this one with the hotel's name clearly spelled out, plus -- LUNCH 40 cents and DINNER 65 cents:

Aylon Samson

1 comment:

ShatteredMonocle said...

$1.50 would be about $36 today. A one night stay at the Night Hotel (1 double bed) goes for ~$240. I assume this includes a bath.