History is all around us, but sometimes it is out of sight. A member of our staff was walking the streets of Lincoln recently when they happened upon a piece of history out in broad daylight: this Gold Medal Flour wall sign painted on the western wall of 1226 P Street. The wall was previously obscured by the building at 1222 P Street, which is currently undergoing construction.
This discovery was pretty great all on its own, but what made it special was how surprisingly well preserved the sign was. To learn more and hopefully get to the bottom of this story, we called up Lincoln’s Historic Preservation Planner, Ed Zimmer. He told us that to tell the story of the wall on 1226 P, one must also understand the story of the building being demolished.
Although the presence of this previously unknown sign might suggest that 1226 is the older of the two buildings, that is actually not the case. Not only was the building at 1222 P older, it predated its neighbor by at least 21 years!
The photos below show the original building at 1222; a white two-story, flat-roofed rowhouse. Notice that it is set back from the sidewalk and that the structure next to it is different than the wall sign adorned one currently sitting at 1226 P.
1889 photograph showing 12th and P. On the left is the McBride Building. On the right is the rowhouse at 1222 P, currently being demolished.
Another 1889 photograph showing the rowhouse in the leftmost section of the foreground. Notice how the rowhouse is set back from the sidewalk.
The current structure at 1226 P was built in 1910 for H. E. Sidles, a leading local businessman at the time, as an automotive garage. Unlike the rowhouse next door, it was built out to the property line and therefore had a portion of its wall that was unobstructed. It is this exposed section of wall that the Gold Medal Flour wall sign is painted on.
Unfortunately, we do not know a specific year that the wall sign was painted, but we can narrow it down to sometime between 1910 and 1921. Why the date range? It has to do with 1222 P again.
Farmers Mutual Insurance Company began transforming the rowhouse into its headquarters in 1921, which included building a limestone facade around the building that extended out to the sidewalk and still stands today. The facade blocked the portion of the wall on which the sign was painted.
Make sure to keep your eyes open for the hidden history in your community. If you find some, make sure to share it with us!