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Old Sacramento Business Owner Accused Of Erasing History

OLD SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — An Old Sacramento business owner is being accused of erasing history.

The incident involves a historic mural which has vanished from one of Sacramento's oldest buildings. It's one of the first things people see when they drive into Old Sacramento — the historic Schroth building on Second Street, one of the few original brick buildings that is still standing from the 1800s.

Now a key part of the building's history has been erased. A faded old mural, known as a "ghost sign" has been on the side of the building for nearly 100 years. It was once an advertisement for "Boss of the Road" overalls.

As of last week, the ghost sign was erased and replaced with the letters AMBI.

(Photo on left credit: Sacramento Archives)

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Removing the original sign violates Sacramento's preservation ordinance which requires approval for any modifications to historic structures.

The owners of a social lounge in the building, Ambiance, told CBS13 they did not know they needed a permit to paint on the building and were trying to make their new sign blend in with the historic district.

The club has a bar in the basement and an event space on the second floor. City staff found out about the unpermitted work and forced the painting crew to stop, creating an odd sight, with only the first four letters of Ambiance's name on the wall.

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The owners were cited by the city and must come up with a plan to restore the original sign.

Debbi Fadli is an art gallery director who tracks "ghost signs."

"It's part of Americana, this is part of our American history, and it's a shame that it's disappearing," Fadli said. "This is a very rare vintage's a work of art, it's a way they used to advertise back in the day."

The lounge owners have 30 days to comply or appeal the citation before a fine is issued.

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