The oldest commercial building in Mystic is the Daniel Packer Inn, on Water Street. Dating from 1754, the Inn is located across the street from the site of the Colonial-era ferry landing. So when I had the opportunity to design and build a new sign for this iconic business, I knew it had to be both unique and traditional.
A classic black background and hand-carved gold leaf lettering covered the traditional requirement. What makes it unique is its display. Colonial era signs were often mounted to “swing” in a rectangular wooden frame, supported by a single massive post in the center; an installation still common in Great Britain.
While the look is traditional, the materials of the sign itself are thoroughly modern. A solid slab of high-density urethane is laminated to a backup sheet of aluminum composite material, providing both strength and durability. The background paint is a traditional black marine topside enamel from Kirby Paints in New Bedford, Ma. The lettering and the relief carved sailing ship were carved by hand with chisels and gouges, and the lettering is finished with genuine 23k gold leaf from W&B of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the only remaining American practitioner of the venerable craft of gold beating and manufacturer of other decorative metal leafs and foils.
The mounting frame is made of kiln-dried Douglas fir timbers, and the 6”x6” center post is pressure-treated for ground contact, durability and strength, and coated with a specially-made black penetrating stain. A separate carved panel with the date 1754 is mounted on the top of the frame.
The Daniel Packer was restored in the 1970s by the late Dick Kiley, father of the current owner Allison Kiley. I knew Dick Kiley from many years ago on Block Island, and this sign is dedicated to his memory.