West Washington Street in downtown Hagerstown is a treasure trove of ghost signs. Down the road from Eyerly’s Department Store is the painted ghost sign of the long-shuttered Updegraff’s Clothiers, Hatters and Furnishers.
The unassuming, fading sign has been prominently displayed at the top of a four-story building for decades. “It is apparently the oldest advertisement in Hagerstown, calling attention to a store that has been out of business for about one-half century,” reported The Daily Mail in February 1964. “Updegraff’s store used to occupy the first floor of this building, with the Updegraff glove factory upstairs.”
In 1975, The Morning Herald shed some more light on the business. “The famous four-storied building still bearing the Updegraff’s sign … was actually the second site of the family business. The first location was the three-storied structure adjoining it on the east side.”
The Daily Mail reported that the men’s area of the department store was sold in the 1910s and the women’s area continued “for a short time after that. The glove factory remained in operation until December 1928.
“Nobody can remember just when the long-lasting sign was painted,” continued the 1964 Daily Mail piece, “but it could be the oldest advertisement in this general area, now that the famous toiletries sign has been obliterated on the cliff near Harper’s Ferry.” Incidentally, that sign returned a few years after it was removed in 1963.
Want to see the inside of the former Updegraff buildings? The City of Hagerstown website has videos featuring the interior of each.
Source: The Daily Mail, February 27, 1964; The Morning Herald, March 19, 1975