Soda Signs Of The Times

One of the recent compelling additions to the City of Sanford‘s downtown ambiance is the “Ghost Sign” arts program, designed to bring old-time advertising back to life. In looking through the downtown archives for a closer look at the original advertising walls, we were struck by the large number of prominent soft drink signs that have dotted our city’s landscape for over a century. We thought you’d enjoy this virtual stroll through the region’s historical advertising landscape. Feel free bring along a bottle of your favorite soda!

The first few examples we located, included a prominent wall sign at the Sanford Carbonating Works plant on Charlotte Avenue. This is the predecessor company of the Sanford Coca-Cola Bottling Company, which became a subsidiary of the Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company in August 2017.  The Progressive Store supermarket chain had a handful of locations in Sanford in early 20th century, as well as in other North Carolina communities. Both of these large signs date from around 1915.

One of the earliest Pepsi-Cola signs in evidence, appeared here on Chatham Street around 1923.  The “garage” in the foreground was an early Buick dealership.  Today we know this building by it’s original name — the Sanford Buggy Factory … home of the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, Downtown Sanford Incorporated, and other businesses.

Restaurants have played a prominent role in the history of Wicker Street for ages, and it hasn’t been usual for soft drink signage to be present for much of that time.  Here we see several Coca-Cola signs on a snowy day in the 1930s and on a hot sunny day in the 1940s.

Next up on this bubbly adventure is a visit to what was known at the time, simply as Jonesboro. This 1940s Main Street view includes Coca-Cola signage on both sides of the street, as well as a prominent Dr. Pepper wall sign on the side of the Jonesboro Feed & Seed building.

Our final stop brings us back to Steele Street and restaurant row in the 1950s, for a great example of soft drink advertising from that era on the Carolina Sporting Goods building.

Editorial content, pictures and research background , compliments of Jimmy Haire and Images of America: Sanford and Lee County, by Jimmy Haire & W.W. Seymour, Jr, available here for purchase. All book proceeds go to Sanford’s Railroad House Historical Association, Inc.