The Mother’s Bread sign, on the side of a house on Dobson Street, is over a hundred years old and is one of the best-preserved examples of an early hand-painted advertising sign in Pittsburgh. It’s been written about in many articles and photographed innumerable times.
Sadly, last night someone spray painted a large tag on the sign. Jim Young, who owns and lives in the house, called the police and a report has been filed. Jim says that he’s been advised not to touch it yet, but already people are thinking about how to remove the graffiti without damaging the original sign. We’ll be working with the City to get some help on this and keeping in touch with the police in hopes that whomever is responsible will be caught. A garage down the block on Dobson was painted with this same tag a few days earlier. and the police might be able to link it to someone.
The Mother’s Bread sign came to light after the neighboring building was demolished in 2007. The sign, probably painted in the 1910’s, was in remarkably good condition because it had been covered up all those years. The sign rapidly became one of the most-photographed sights in Polish Hill and people come through the neighborhood just to see it. Jim Young says, “It’s been photographed constantly since it was revealed in ’07. It’s a band’s album cover, background for modeling pics, and made it into a coffee table book about ghost signs. I’ve even bought art with my house on it at the Arts Festival. I know people like it as much as I do. I’ve tried to encourage its lasting integrity with interior sealing of cracks and holes since it was revealed.”
Read more about the sign:
According to a 2011 article in the Post-Gazette, the sign was painted by Maurice “Red” O’Donnell.
Polish Hill resident Mark O’Connor wrote about the sign in a beautifully evocative essay about childhood, published in the Polish Hill Voice in May 2011.
The sign was featured in an article about old hand-painted advertising signs in the Tribune-Review in September 2012.