Dramatic view of the Cunningham Sign restoration by Brad Carney. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • location


  • Neighborhood


  • completion date

    March 01, 2016

Artist and present day sign painter Darin Rowland restores the sign at the Philadelphia Tribune. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About the Project 

In every corner of the city, it’s not hard to find a faded, hand-painted sign on the side of an old building. Most of these “ghost signs” advertise businesses that have long since moved on. But not all of them are throwbacks to Philadelphia’s industrial heritage. There are many multi-generational, family owned businesses that have survived the sometimes tumultuous current of Philadelphia’s economic history.

Mural Arts has partnered with the Tyler School of art and Temple Contemporary to restore some of these still relevant signs. The image at the top of this page shows the restoration of the Cunningham Piano Company sign in Germantown. Founded in 1891, Cunningham is still in operation today.

Brief animation of the Henssler sign restoration. Before photo and sign restoration by Nathaniel Lee. Final photo and animation by Steve Weinik.

Selected Restorations 

Just south of Girard Avenue on 13th street is Henssler Locksmith Company. Established in 1898, the business is now operated by 5th generation locksmith, John Henssler. Henssler credits the restored sign with an uptick in his business.

Philadelphia Tribune. Repainted and partially reimagined by Darin Rowland. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Headquartered near 16th and South Streets, the Philadelphia Tribune is the oldest, continually publishing African-American newspaper in the United States. In the summer of 2015, Philadelphia based sign painter Darin Rowland restored a badly faded sign on the building’s exterior. Changes were made to reflect the current state of the paper (The Tribune now prints daily, and the 5 cent/issue advertisement was eliminated). Rowland used historic photos of the building to match the type and style of the original sign.



City of Philadelphia