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Phantom signs: Hume Hotel

Updated: May 10

Sometime after the Silver King Hotel in Nelson was demolished in 1947, a sign (seen below, circa 1960s) was painted on the side of KWC block advertising “Hume Hotel — 1 block to fine food and accommodation.”

(Ellis Anderson photo)


It became a phantom sign of sorts in 1980, when the Hume Hotel was renamed the Heritage Inn. New proprietors Dave and Sheila Martin were trying to escape the stigma attached to the old name due to the dodgy reputation of previous owners.


This photo below was taken in 2001 and you’ll note signs for two businesses that aren’t there anymore: Ramsay’s art supplies (later Still Eagle and now the Tea Garden salon) and Ramsbottom’s computers and graphics (now Phoenix computers).

By 2005, however, the hotel’s standing had long since been restored and it once again became the Hume. Consequently, the phantom sign came back into vogue. (Something similar occurred in Grand Forks, where the Gazette moved out of its longtime home, leaving a painted sign on its side a phantom, only to later return to the building.)


By the early 2020s, the Hume sign had deteriorated to a shocking degree. Hotel owner Ryan Martin, with the blessing of KWC block owner Lana Donaldson, wanted to repaint it. But it was a more involved process than he anticipated, requiring the help of heritage professional Elana Zysblat. For the restoration of the sign to be historically accurate, it needed to retain the sign’s original imperfections, including letters that did not match perfectly. Valor Painting of Bonnington did the job, which is seen below in its completed form.

It was worth the trouble. The sign restoration received the City of Nelson’s 2023 heritage award. Heritage working group chair Berdine Jonker said it shows “heritage conservation is about more than just buildings of a certain age. It’s about dedication to preserving and restoring cherished parts of our overall heritage value.”

Mayor Janice, Morrison, Leandra Martin, Ryan Martin, heritage working group chair Berdine Jonker, and cultural development officer Joy Barrett in December 2023. (Courtesy City of Nelson)


The project was honoured a second time at the Heritage BC conference in Nelson in the “small but mighty” category. The citation said the restoration reinstated the sign as “a significant historic landmark, preserving its iconic status.”

Elana Zysblat, Leandra Martin, and Ryan Martin accept their award from Heritage BC in May 2024.


Updated on March 18, 2024 to add the details about the sign being repainted and winning the City of Nelson heritage award and on May 9, 2024 to add details about the Heritage BC award.

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