Babies and Beer: Teardown Reveals New Ghost Signs

Babies and Beer: Teardown Reveals New Ghost Signs
Kroll Krib ghost ad on 4416 N. Western Ave. (Neil Arsenty photo)

In late April 2018, the building at 4428 N. Western was torn down, revealing two partial ghost signs on the walls of the building on either side.

On the South wall can be seen an advertisement for the Kroll Krib, named for Nathan and Samuel Kroll, who began manufacturing baby carriages in the early 1920s. Under the Kroll Brothers name, they eventually formed the Chicago Baby Carriage Company. Their main salesroom at their peak was at 1801 S. Michigan in a building which is still standing. The location of this ghost sign was likely chosen because of its vicinity to the company’s North side store, formerly located at 3311 N. Lincoln Ave.

The first ads for the Kroll Krib (aka the Kroll Kab) appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1928. Early ads tout the brand as including “over 100 different models in every wanted color or combination of colors.” Kroll Kribs remained popular throughout the 1930s, where they were only available for sale from Chicago Baby Carriage Company stores. The brand began selling at Goldblatt’s and other furniture stores in the 1940s.

1945 newspaper ad for "Kroll Quality" furniture

Newspaper ad for “Kroll Quality” furniture (Chicago Tribune, April 29, 1945)

The ghost sign is very similar to newspaper advertisements that began appearing in 1945, proclaiming “Kroll Quality” furniture, so it’s safe to assume this was painted around the same time. The tagline “Make His Dream Come True” reflects the culture of the period, focusing on the husband’s happiness above all.

Samuel Kroll died in 1946. The last advertisements for Kroll Kribs were published in 1955. Kroll Brothers remained in business until at least the early 1960s. Nathan was president of the company for the rest of its existence. He died in retirement in 1985.

Monarch Brewing Company ghost ad on 4440 N. Western

Monarch Brewing Company ghost ad on 4440 N. Western Ave. (Photo: Neil Arsenty)

On the North wall can be seen an advertisement for the Monarch Brewing Company. The company formed in 1892 and managed to survive Prohibition.

It was initially unclear what product of their’s this sign was advertising, as there were many brands Monarch sold in the 1940s when the building next door was built, covering the sign. There was Encore, which was marketed as a high-class distinguished premium beer. There was Malvaz, which was marketed to as a healthy “pure malt tonic” during Prohibition and continued to be sold in the same fashion afterward.

1947 newspaper ad for Monarch Beer (Chicago Tribune, Aug 14, 1947)

1947 newspaper ad for Monarch Beer (Chicago Tribune, Aug 14, 1947)

However, the sign was most likely simply advertising their primary Monarch Beer which, in 1947, used the tagline “Make BEER Your Beverage… MONARCH Your Brand!” and this same phrase appears to be partially showing in the ghost sign.

Sales for the Chicago-based beer slowed by the end of the 1950s and eventually, the Monarch Brewing Company went out of business in 1971. You can read more about Monarch and other past Chicago brewery buildings still standing on Forgotten Chicago.

As far as these ghost signs go, no word on what will be built in place of the teardown, so get up to Lincoln Square while you can and check them out before they’re covered up again.

Filed under: Ghost Signs

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    Neil is a comedian who works in email marketing. He lives in Ravenswood.

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