ASHLAND -- Building owner Matt Wurster said he plans to preserve and restore the more than 100 year-old advertising on the side of the former Napa Auto Parts building at 88 E. Main St. in Ashland.
Revealed when the former Weiss Family Pharmacy buildings were demolished in October, the painted advertising includes a sign for a five and dime store called Val Shuck's, which was located in the former Napa building. It also features a billboard-style ad for Selz Royal Blue Shoes and an ad touting "An Honest Coffee at an Honest Price."
All three ads were hidden for more than 100 years, since Samuel D. Reeb built the first of the two Weiss buildings at 80 E. Main St. in 1906.
Local collector David Lee has a postcard from 1904 that shows the Selz sign on the wall, next to a laundry business that eventually was demolished to make way for Reeb's new building.
Wurster said he knew there was something painted on the wall early in the construction process because a few of the letters from the five and dime sign were visible on the second floor of the Weiss building.
It wasn't until demolition was nearly complete that the building owner discovered just how large and prominent the advertisements were.
"I think it was a pretty cool find," Wurster said. "It's the history of Ashland, and it's just something that I think should stay."
Ashland County Historical Society staff researched Val Shuck's and found the variety store was run by Valentine Shuck. According to Shuck's obituary, he operated the store 16 years before his sudden death from pneumonia in 1907.
A German immigrant from Rodenbach, Bavaria, Shuck came to America at age 16 and spent most of his life in Ashland with his wife, Isabella Lehman.
Prior to opening his shop, Shuck worked as a butcher and then as a stonemason. He was also a city councilman.
Shuck was described in the newspaper as "a quiet, unassuming Christian gentleman and an exemplary citizen" who was "frugal in his habits and possessed strength of character which was to be lauded by his fellow men."
His obituary also noted that Shuck and his wife were useful and industrious but "never in the public eye."
Wurster said crews took precautions to preserve the wall at 88 E. Main St. during demolition of the adjacent building. After that, the entire wall needed tuckpointing to restore and repair the damaged mortar. Now, Wurster is confident the building is structurally sound.
Restoration of the advertising is slated for spring, Wurster said.
A crew from Page Excavating also managed to salvage the "S. D. Reeb" stonework from the former Weiss drugstore building, and Wurster donated the piece to the Ashland County Historical Society.