A Ghost In
Does Metamora really have a ghost? It sure does……. A Ghost
Sign, that is! Facing the west side of the Courthouse on the face of
the structure located at 111 East Partridge Street, visitors and
residents alike can see
for themselves the predecessor of today’s advertising billboards.
ghost of a sign is
barely visible today but in its hay day, it was a work of art
probably created by a
painter who specialized in creating advertising pieces on the sides
This particular sign boasts America’s Cup Coffee which was a
brand of coffee made in Peoria,
Illinois in the early
1900’s. On February 6, 2000, the Peoria Journal Star ran an
article on ghost
signs in the
Peoria area and included Metamora’s early "billboard".
The very next day John and
Phyllis Dietel, owners
of the building where the sign appears, were surprised to find Mr.
on their front door. It seems Mr. Oakford, now the Executive
Lakeview Museum, is the
son of the man who created America’s Cup Coffee!
Mr. Oakford asked if John and Phyllis would like to know the
story behind the sign – the answer
was a big YES!
Art’s father was Aaron Samuel Oakford who was born in 1845 in a
near what is now the
National Guard Center at Peoria Regional Airport. Early in life Aron
for a retail
store, however in 1868 he opened Henry, Oakford & Fahnestock
1939 this grocery
supplier became Oakford Company.
Art Oakford worked at his fathers company throughout his high
school years and on in to college.
He has many fond
memories of such things as barges delivering coffee to Peoria on the
River. The coffee was
picked up by wagon and taken to the company’s headquarters in the
of the 300 block
of South Washington on the river side of the street. There it was
bottled in glass
bottles for eventual sale on grocery store shelves. The top of the
line coffee (and
goods) were labeled Blue Ribbon.
Art also remembers a large round table, which is still in his
family, being used for "tastings". Tasters
gathered around the
table and moved samples of the coffee on a lazy- susan for each
experience. The ultimate goal was for every cup of coffee brewed for
the brand to taste
the same day after day,
week after week. Thus the tasters job was to see to it the goal was
As for the product name, "America’s Cup", it seems
the entire Oakford Family had a love of sailing
especially fond of the America’s Cup Race. There are 2 urns on the
which are replicas of
the races prized trophy. The owners of the building on Partridge
Dietel, were given a glass America’s Cup coffee jar, complete with
label, from the
World War 2 era (early
1940’s) by the late Nick Williams and Phillip Fischer has given
America’s Cup tea box which still contains tea – mighty old