Herald-Whig

Advertisements of old Hannibal businesses add artwork downtown, help celebrate bicentennial

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 9, 2018 12:01 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Visitors to downtown Hannibal might notice a new piece of artwork on the side of La Azotea Lounge at 323 N. Main St. Painted on the building is a bear standing against a barrel, and underneath the image are the words "Sole Mfrs. Bear Creek White Lime."

It's an advertisement for an old local business and is an initiative of the city's bicentennial Lasting Legacies committee.

Megan Rapp, assistant tourism director and head of the bicentennial's press/marketing committee, describes the advertisement as a "ghost sign."

"Ghost signs are faded signs you often see on the sides of old buildings and are advertisements from long ago, many times for businesses that are no longer in existence," she said. "The Lasting Legacies committee came up with the idea of re-creating old logos and ads on the sides of historic buildings. They are representations of businesses that existed in Hannibal as well as a unique art feature for both residents and visitors to enjoy during the bicentennial in 2019 and beyond."

Bob Allen, a local sign painter, painted the image at 323 N. Main St.

A 1984 National Register of Historic Places nomination form made available online gives a detailed history of the Bear Creek Lime Co., also known on the form as the Hannibal Lime Co.

The form says Hannibal Lime Co., 623 Collier St., was founded in 1871 for the purpose of manufacturing, buying and selling lime plaster and cement. Its quarry was in the bluffs south of Bear Creek opposite Wardlaw Street. Kilns were on the hill near the quarry, and a packing and shipping station was near the tracks of the St. Louis and Hannibal Railroad. At the height of the company's business, it employed 200 people.

Hannibal Lime Co's logo, re-created for the bicentennial, shows a bear standing against a barrel, and on the end of the barrel is the same picture of the bear standing against a barrel, and so on. The company's slogan was "Whitest, Strongest, Coolest and Best."

Hannibal Lime Co. was purchased by the Marblehead Lime Corp. in Delaware in 1922. Throughout the Hannibal Lime Co.'s existence, it made an impact on the community and the city's industrial environment.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 under the criteria that "it is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. It is the best preserved of a handful of surviving structures associated with the 19th century industry in Hannibal."

The Lasting Legacies committee intends to have more ghost signs painted around the downtown area.

"We are really excited about the great projects and ideas that are going to make the bicentennial so special," Rapp said.