Deborah Uhl, an art curator from New Mexico, is nearing completion with an extensive restoration project of the ghost signs on the south exterior wall of the Tabor Opera House, a series of painted advertisements over time.
Uhl has worked on many similar projects in Colorado, including old Cocoa-Cola ads in Fort Collins and Lafayette. She said she was drawn to the process of restoring old works of art and appreciated the value of murals, no matter how old they were.
After taking on the project in Tabor, Uhl conducted hours of research and tried to find old photos of the panels.
The first step was to dry clean the south exterior wall where slight traces of lettering were visible on the old brickwork. Uhl then applied a first coat of varnish to separate the original lettering from what she would add.
Uhl used a stencil to trace the letters that were not visible, a task that involved extensive research into historical typefaces. Once the holes are filled in, Uhl applies a final coat of varnish.
There’s one more word on the wall that Uhl has yet to fully identify. Towards the bottom of the Tabor club room ad, there is a word that starts with an “M” and ends with an “a”. Uhl challenges Leadville historians to help him identify the word.