In the built environment, signs are ubiquitous and mostly spell out the names of products or the places where products can be purchased.

There was a time when actual human names were permanently displayed upon the facades of buildings. There was an optimism in these named buildings and they were built by craftsmen to last throughout the ages.

While some of these buildings survive, others have been destroyed to make way for more temporary structures without names. Perhaps part of the effort to preserve old buildings is because they have names like ours. They remind us of the human effort and pride that went into their construction.

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Ken Kornacki is a State Guide to Wisconsin. Follow him on Tumblr at aurum-design or on his website,