Demolition uncovers Battle Ax Tobacco ad

STEUBENVILLE -The demolition of the former Top Value Furniture store last month has uncovered a sign advertising a brand of chewing tobacco made famous in the 1890s.

Steve Vukelic, co-owner of RSV Inc. and owner of the South Fourth Street building that was deemed unsafe, said he was surprised when his demolition crews pulled down a brick wall that had hidden the sign advertising Battle Ax plug tobacco on the north wall of PeeDee’s Restaurant.

“I had never heard of that tobacco so I did an Internet search and found the same signs painted on the side of bills elsewhere in the country. It was called Battle Ax and its logo was a battle ax with the words ‘A great piece piece to chew for 10 cents.’ It is a piece of local advertising exposed to the public again. And it is kind of neat to see after all these years,” said Vukelic.

“There is also a sign painted at the top of the wall that says Pittsburgh stores. I’m not sure what that is for,” Vukelic added.

Diane Woods who manages PeeDee’s, said she would like to have the wall and 100-year-old signed cleaned and possibly restored.

“I would like to contact someone who has an interest in that particular brand of chewing tobacco or in old tobacco signs. I have had several people stopping to look at the sign and coming in here to ask me about it,” she noted.

According to the research staff in the Ohio History Room at the Schiappa branch of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County, the building that is currently home to PeeDee’s Restaurant first appeared in the 1909 city directory as a Chinese laundry.

The two-story building that was knocked down by Vukelic in December was half of the former Top Value Furniture store that was operated for years by Harry Sigusmund and Phil Brown.

Vukelic purchased the property after Top Value closed its doors and the building sat empty until it was condemned by the city.

“Right now we are taking down a school building in Pittsburgh. But as soon as that project is finished we will return here to take down the rest of the Top Value Furniture store building. I want to clean up this particular area and possibly add parking for the surrounding businesses.

“And I know there are some old tin ceiling pieces in the building that I want to save before we take the building down. That demolition will also require some brick removal by hand so we don’t damage the Catholic Community Center building,” Vukelic declared.

“The new owner of the old Catholic Community Center is planning to renovate his building so we may see more people at this end of the downtown business district,” remarked Vukelic.