During 1970-80 Fort Collins first recorded the importance of its historic wall advertising signs in newspaper articles and in a video of local sign painter, Harold Asmus. Robert Copeland, Reference Librarian for the Fort Collins Public Library, also photographed the historic wall signs when they started the Old Town Redevelopment project in the early 1980s.
Then in the 1990s historic preservation advocates and friends of local sign painter, Don Brown, became increasingly concerned about the fading of Don Brown's large Coca Cola sign painted on the exterior brick wall of CooperSmith's Brewery, a local restaurant in Old Town Square. Steve Mack, Don Brown's representative and close friend, contacted Historic Fort Collins Development Corporation, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Local History Archive about the possibility of preserving the fading Coca-Cola sign. They researched possible conservation and restoration techniques for the sign that was by then classified as a "ghost sign." This research led to a seminar on "Preserving Ghost Signs" presented by local preservationists Rheba Massey and Dick Hill for the Colorado Preservation, Inc. Annual Conference in 2002, and a 2006 report by Carol Tunner, Preservation Planner, on the history of "ghost signs."
Don Brown also wanted his art work and memorabilia preserved, thus he donated his graphic arts collection and funds for its conservation to the Local History Archive in 2001. Rheba Massey, Local History Librarian, interviewed Don Brown about his profession, and Brian Thomas, Colorado State University history student, performed an interview of Don's close friend, Bob Hoyt. Brian also processed and created this online exhibit of the collection in 2003.
Don painting a wall sign at unknown location, c. 1956
Don in front of his sign shop, 116 Trimble Court, Fort Collins, c. 1956
Don in his sign shop, c. 1985
Don's Pepsi-Cola sign, c. 1956
Preserving the history of Fort Collins, Colorado & the Cache la Poudre region