Ghost signs disappear from former Cox Produce building but will reappear

WICHITA — Almost two decades after purchasing the former Cox Produce building in Old Town, Marcey and Gary Gregory are finally giving the building the facelift they feel it deserves.

“We really love that building, and we just felt like she needed a little TLC,” says Marcey Gregory, the mayor of Goddard.

The building is home to First Gear, among other businesses. The Gregorys sold the business earlier this year, and new owner Greg Reed had a new First Gear sign painted on the building. Marcey Gregory says she and her husband liked how the new sign looked and felt confident enough in the painter, Kerry Unrein Painting & Signs, to repaint the ghost signs still legible on the building.

Ghost signs are older, faded signs still visible on buildings or ones from the past that become newly exposed on buildings. The Gregorys have had the ghost signs, such as ones advertising fresh fruit and produce, painted over on their building. Now they’re going to have the same parts of the building freshly painted with new letters.

“It’s going to say the same thing,” Marcey Gregory says. “It’s improving the look of it.”

Though there are many city codes that protect historic properties such as this 1907 building, there are no codes that address ghost signs.

“Yes, they are historic, but it’s up to the property owner if they maintain them, how they maintain them or if they want to get rid of them,” says Kathy Morgan, a senior planner with the city.

And for those who may be sorry to see the loss of older signs?

“If there were enough people that wanted to do something about it, then it would be considered,” Morgan says. “That’s the way we review the standards for design review.”

Marcey Gregory says the history of the building is a big part of her and her husband’s attraction to it.

“There’s a long history in that building,” she says. “Gary and I both just love that building and feel a very strong connection to it.”

Gregory says the building had been sitting empty a number of years before she and her husband purchased it from Bud Gates and Sheldon Kamen and found new occupants for it.

“The historic connection to it,” Gregory says, “we don’t want to lose that.”