Hand-Painted Historic Ghost Signs in Downtown Antioch


The charm and history of Antioch have brought visitors to the downtown shopping district for over a century. This fall, the Village of Antioch unveil the Ghosted ghost sign project that celebrates the community’s history while spurring economic activity for the local business community.

With an eye on giving visitors one more reason to visit downtown Antioch, the GHOSTED signs are a hit! Earlier in October, Antioch Mayor Scott Gartner lead a ribbon-cutting ceremony to “unveil” the newest additions to downtown. 

“In addition to educating our residents and visitors about Antioch’s history, these signs also provide one more reason for people to visit our downtown business district,” said Gartner. “This was a project we started to work on about a year ago. I’m grateful for the hard work of the many members of the village board, staff, and outside organizations that worked together to make this project a success.” The mayor says he hopes to see more signs added in the coming years.

The Village of Antioch has partnered with the Lakes Region Historical Society to tell the story of historic downtown businesses. The Ghosted initiative includes preserving one existing ghost sign and creating a handful of new signs inspired by Antioch’s past.

This information and more pictures are available online at www.enjoyantioch.com/ghosted

Downtown Antioch

882 Main Street

This location has long been one of the first views of Downtown Antioch for people headed South on Route 83. 

On September 15, 1969, the Village Board voted in favor of the addition of a new police department onto Village Hall on the west side of Main Street. Benes Construction of Antioch won the bid and the total cost for the development was $47,500, which also included new sidewalks and landscaping.

The Antioch Police Department quickly outgrew this location, requiring a new station to be built at 433 Orchard Street. The new PD was dedicated in 1999. Soon after, the Antioch Chamber of Commerce moved into the 874 location and remains here today.

An ice cream parlor named Snow White’s was once located where the Village Hall is today. Back then people could sit on a swivel stool and take in the sights of Main Street while enjoying a frozen treat. 

Williams Brothers Department Store

910 Main Street

In 1917, the Williams brothers, Daniel and Edgar, ran their store out of the King building at 904 Main Street. 

In March 1891, the brothers opened a large, modern department store built immediately to the south at 910 Main Street. Together they operated Williams Brothers until 1921 when Daniel transitioned his share of the business to his stepson, Wilbur Reese Williams. The name changed to Williams Department Store after 54 years. Wilbur managed the business and after a time, his son, Harold Edgar, became a partner. Unfortunately, Harold was only with the company for under two years, dying at the age of 30. 

Harold’s sons, Dean and Roger, were next to manage the store. Again disaster struck, Dean died in an automobile accident in August 1959 while driving his new Jaguar, leaving Roger to run the store. 

Many other businesses operated at this location including Williams Hardware Store, True Value Hardware, and The Emporium Antiques. For more than 130 years, this location has offered Village residents and visitors the same staple items.

Reeves Drug Store

901 Main Street

After the massive fire of November 1903 destroyed much of the east side of Main Street, Gideon Thayer constructed a sturdy brick building at 901 Main Street. 

By 1905, William and Alexander Gauger ran the Gauger Brothers store on the first floor, along with the Lux sisters, Ada and Minnie, who ran a photography business on the second floor. The Gauger brothers operated their business at this location until they left for California in 1913.

Sidney Reeves moved to Antioch from Chicago in 1919 for a pharmacist position at W.J. Richards Drug Store located at 928 Main Street. By 1921, Mr. Reeves had purchased the business. He moved the renamed Reeves Drug Store to the newly remodeled Thayer Building at 901 Main Street in April 1926. Mr. Reeves gifted free ice cream cones to 1st through 3rd grader students every Monday afternoon.

In 1941, the pharmacists, George and Helen Cribb Borovicka, purchased the business from 83-year-old Mr. Reeves. George and Helen hired another local female pharmacist, Edna Drom, to help run the store and it soon became affiliated with the Walgreens Agency. After George’s death, Helen and Edna operated the business until the eighties with Helen’s sister, Ruth Cribb Elliott. After the closing of Reeves Drugs in 1983, many other businesses have occupied this structure located in the center of town.

Gambles Hardware & Appliances

954 Main Street

954 Main Street was originally part of the Chinn and Rogers Block, which was destroyed in the 1891 fire. 

In 1926, Walter Chinn built this modern building to house his confectionary store and newsstand, as well as the office of the North Shore Line which provided bus services to the Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee Railroad stations. 

In 1934, Rudy Eckert opened his franchise hardware business, Gamble’s Store, in this location which he ran for over thirty-eight years. It was known as “The Friendly Store.”

The upstairs hall once housed the Old Fellows Lodge and Christian Science worship services were held on the second floor. 

The Chinn Block has also been home to Foth Confectionary, Metropolitan Motor Coach offices, the Antioch News, Sonshine Books, and the Humidor among others.

This was the only ghost sign that was still visible at the start of this process. The goal of this sign repair was to make the painting more visible at street level so that it can remain for another 90 years.

Scott’s Dairy

891 Main

891 Main Street currently houses Something Sweet, which inspired the connection to the historic Antioch business, Scott’s Dairy. 

Walter Scott owned and operated Scott’s Dairy in Antioch for many years before working as the Superintendent of Public Works and a trustee for the Village. In 1951, he became Chief of Police of Antioch, where he remained until his retirement in 1963.

The first building at 891 Main Street was lost in the 1903 fire and contained a restaurant and bakery. The new brick building housed shoe sales for the first fifty years of its existence—Chicago Footwear Company, Rhodes’ Shoes, Antioch Shoe Shop, and Darnaby’s Shoes to name a few. The store once had a fluoroscopic x-ray machine that showed people the bones of their feet while wearing shoes to check the fit. It was later removed after the dangers of radiation were realized. 

Other businesses that were housed here include a fine gift shop called The General Store, a children’s clothing store named Choosey Child, Village Stitchery, and now Something Sweet. In 1997, it was the building awarded with the “Chicago’s Finest Painted Lady Competition’’ for the commercial buildings category for the Northwest suburbs.