Renovation work downtown has uncovered a fine example of an American small town treasure: the “ghost sign”. This one is very colorful and detailed, and a number of people are already trying to interpret the missing words from the frail ghosts they’ve left behind.It’s somewhat providential that I (very) recently became the owner of an excellent lens for this kind of photography. It’s even more providential that I went to take these pictures before we got totally socked in by the winter storm.
I haven’t been able to find any photographs yet of the interior of the Palace, although I did find this cool matchbook cover. (Yep, that’s a three digit phone number. It has been a while.) But from its location across the street from the courthouse, it’s easy to imagine that the Palace was primarily a lunch and bar place that catered to local business people, well heeled shoppers and anyone who worked in or had business with the courts or county government– just like any courthouse square restaurant in any American small town. Indeed, a competing restaurant of a very similar type from the same era is still going strong in the next block.
A Kistwich or Kist-Wich setup was a restaurant fixture for making hot dogs and grilled sandwiches, featuring an electric griddle, a steamer and a butter melter; it was made by Holcomb and Hoke, the famous makers of movie theater popcorn machines, perhaps in an effort to diversify their line. Read about Kist-wiches here. The example in the Antique Popcorn Museum dates to 1925, although the Palace Restaurant ghost sign must be slightly later. Prohibition ended in 1933, and it’s easy to imagine the owners of the Palace commissioning this handsome and colorful sign to announce that their bar was open again.
Here’s another mission for the World’s Most Boring Time Traveler: Head over to Valpo in 1934 or 35 for a Kistwich and cocktail at the Palace.