2125 Donaldson Ave, Covington, KY 41012
The Donaldson Art Sign Company located in Cincinnati, Ohio can be traced back to a partnership between William M. Donaldson and Henry Elms. These two entrepreneurs began a small lithography business in Cincinnati on August 10, 1863. By the end of the first year of operation, the firm owned and operated seven hand printing presses. With the death of Mr. Elms in 1872, the business became the sole property of Donaldson. The company was officially incorporated as the Donaldson Lithograph Co. in 1883.
The company moved to the City of Newport, Kentucky in 1898, and was housed in the old Duber Watch Case Company facility (6th and Washington Streets). The company flourished in its Newport location. By 1913, plans were underway to expand the firm. William M. Donaldson acquired the old Central Covington Stockyards at 21st and Banklick Streets. Plans called for a 50,000 square foot building that would eventually employ 200 workers. The cost of construction reached the sum of nearly $100,000. Work on the new plant was begun in August 1914.
They manufactured advertising signs made of iron, tin, glass and other metals for various companies including oil / gas, candy, soda, and breweries just to name a few.
William M. Donaldson died on October 22, 1931 at the age of 91. Despite this loss, both the Art Sign Company and the Lithographic Company continued to operate. Ownership of the company, however, remained in the family until 1981. That year, the company was purchased by Robert McLaughlin, a former company vice president, and James Keller.
In 1987, the Donaldson Art Sign Company ceased operation. The owners of the company declared bankruptcy. The bank which held the mortgage on the property also went bankrupt. The building remained, however, and quickly deteriorated.
In January 1990, the ramshackle structure was severely damaged by fire. A 15-year old was later charged for setting the fire which resulted in an estimated loss of $100,000.
The Donaldson Art Sign Company made various signs for breweries like Deppen, Valley Forge, Trainer, Pittsburgh, Tube City, Brucks, Pearl, Blatz, Wiedemanns, Hamm’s, and Ziegler just to name a few.
Below are a few examples of Donaldson Art Sign Company signs: