Columbia’s ghost signs: Marilyn’s Shoes

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When we think of ghost signs, we usually think of the faded remnants of vintage advertisements, often painted on the sides or fronts of buildings. In April, we took a look at the ghost sign on the front of Liberty Taproom and the history of the building which was built as a grocery warehouse in 1902.

This ghost sign is a little different — one you might have walked right over if you’ve visited Drake’s Duck-In or strolled right past on Main Street.

In 2019 renovations began on the building at 1544 Main St., exposing the brickwork on the front of the building as work began to restore it to the way it looked in 1940. In addition, they tore up the flooring that covered the entrance of the building, revealing the decades-old logo of former tenant Marliyn’s Shoes.


Let’s take a quick look at the rich history of the building, now home to Drake’s Duck In and Doctor’s Care.

  • Built in 1872, the building was the site of Duffie & Chapman’s Bookstore.
  • In 1938, the building was renovated, adding the brickwork that is seen today.
  • After 1940, the building was home to several shoe stores, including Cannon, Marilyn, and Endicott-Johnson.
  • In 1996, Drake’s Duck-In — a restaurant that started on Elmwood Avenue in 1907 — moved in.

Until recently, the upstairs area above Drake’s Duck-In was inaccessible, with the remnants of those shops frozen in time for nearly half a century. The second story used to be home to several businesses including sign shop Bronson + Miller, Sargeant Photo Co., and Darling Beauty Supply which overlooked Main Street. The upstairs area above Doctor’s Care, located next door to Drake’s Duck-In, was home to the Metropolitan Café that served fine Greek food amid hand-painted murals.

As for the future of the upstairs areas, it remains unclear. The pandemic slowed the 2019 plans, but the renovation is still in the works.

Be the broker, what would you like to see in the upstairs areas above Doctor’s Care and Drake’s Duck-In?

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