“Honor Bright and Black Beauty” – Ghost Signs Lost in Detroit

I first discovered the “ghost” wall advertisements on Hamilton Avenue in Detroit on a cold January day in 2011. The building next door had come down to reveal the amazing hand-painted artwork. The exposed upper left corner of the wall promoted Square Deal Hardware. The rest of the surface was split between Honor Bright Boys Blouses, Shirts and Playsuits, and Black Beauty Work Shirts.

I revisited the wall the following summer for further inspection. Honor Bright Blouses, Shirts and Playsuits had a fluid, porcelain texture.  The action-packed illustration showed a young man hurtling along on a bicycle and another running with a package, demonstrating a contemporary lifestyle.

To the right, the more tightly illustrative layout presented the merits of the Black Beauty Triple Stitch Thoro-Bred Work Shirt. The company logo included a horse that exhibited a strong demeanor.

Wall artwork noted a copyright, 1914, and both garments shown were made by Reliance Manufacturing of Chicago.

Over the years I returned many times to enjoy this unique wall art. In June of 2014, photographer Janice Milhem and I encountered members of the House of Jacob assembling outside prior to Bible studies.

Young people played on the cleared land while Janice and I engaged the assembled members, who asked, “Why are you here?”

We pointed out the significance of the 100-year-old hand-painted wall art, the only such art in Detroit.

The response was that it was defacing a house of worship. Someone quoted a Bible verse and said that, soon, the entire wall would be painted over. Repeatedly Janice and I made a case for the historical significance of the rare hand-painted art and its age. That went nowhere!

In August, 2014, I returned to The House of Jacob on Hamilton Avenue

to view a freshly painted wall. Honor Bright and Black Beauty had been erased.

Additional information about the signage may noted at the wonderful site –


All blog images may be downloaded at:  www.davidclementsproductions.com/category/blog



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3 thoughts on ““Honor Bright and Black Beauty” – Ghost Signs Lost in Detroit

  1. Great story and photos, David. What a sad ending, though. However, it makes me even less of a fan of religion.

  2. Hi David,
    I never saw the signs in person….but I think there were very Nice!
    Someone put a lot of work o to painting them, for them now to be covered up!
    Maybe in the future, someone will again paint something beautiful on those walls!!
    There are some very nice paintings on some of the bldgs., in downtown Detroit!
    Thanks foe sharing your story!!

  3. I’m sure if someone had painted a white Jesus on the wall, they would have kept it.

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