Coca-Cola mural restored in downtown Washington
Published 2:00 pm Friday, September 15, 2023
Editor’s Note: The following article has been revised to correct a source’s quote. Coke Consolidated restores ghost signs in towns across the territory it serves. The source’s quote has been removed.
A newly restored mural is turning heads on Main Street in downtown Washington. What once was a hazy memory of signs painted years before is now a bright “delicious” and “refreshing” Coca-Cola Consolidated mural.
The eye-catching design is the work of Amber Thompson and Washington native, Samantha Brinson. The pair spent hours researching what might have been the original design, because it’s hard to tell given its estimated age and the signs that were painted over it.
Their best guess is that it was painted sometime between the 1940’s and 1960’s. According to their research the building where the mural is located was constructed in the 1940’s and Coca-Cola Consolidated templates from around that time show the main red and white logo with green and yellow borders. The mural is located on the sidewall of Copper Canyon (183 W. Main Street).
The mural was brought to life through a partnership between Historic Port of Washington (HPOW) Ghost Signs project and Coke Consolidated.
The Ghost Signs project began over two years ago when HPOW partnered with Brinson to preserve ghost signs around downtown. A historic, hand-painted advertising sign that becomes faded from weather and time, but is later preserved is also known as a ghost sign. HPOW works to preserve these as well as add new signs depicting Washington’s history.
To preserve the 17 ft.x12 ft. sign in Washington, it cost about $8,500 and took three days to paint (Monday Sept. 11-Wednesday, Sept. 13).
Brinson said it’s important to preserve local ghost signs, because it “completes” the look of downtown adding color and fullness where there had been “haunting” and “lingering” images of yesteryear.
For Thompson, working with Coca-Cola Consolidated to bring back advertising signs preserves a piece of history and it keeps memories of her late grandfather alive.
Thompson’s grandfather also worked with Coca-Cola Consolidated painting original advertising signs on buildings. She inherited his artistic talent, and later partnered with the company to refurbish signs in North Carolina. She said it is an “honor” said to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps.
According to Coca-Cola Consolidated, “the first Coca-Cola wall mural was painted on the side of a drug store in Cartersville, GA in 1894. A Coca-Cola syrup salesman saw the potential of the exterior wall – its length and adjacency to the busy bus depot made it the ideal location for a billboard. The concept caught on at corporate, and by the early 1900s, ‘Painted Wall Advertising’ was included in the annual marketing budget. As many as 16,000 wall murals were painted by the Company and its local bottlers, helping make Coca- Cola the most recognized brand in the world. Murals waned in popularity in the 1970s, as the shopping malls drove commerce away from America’s Main Streets. In recent years, artists have restored and repainted vintage Coca-Cola murals, giving these ‘ghost signs’ a second life.”
“As a local Coca-Cola bottler, Coca- Cola Consolidated is committed to supporting the communities in which we live and work,” said Richard Stafford, Coke Consolidated’s General Manager of Sales Operations for the Washington-area. “Restoring this mural is a nod to Washington and Coca-Cola’s past but also represents a shared vision for a vibrant downtown for our customers and consumers.”