The birthplace of the
A three-story painted sign now covers the east brick wall of the Vigo County Historical Museum on Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute, Indiana, where the Root Glass Co. patented the iconic Coke bottle in 1915 after responding to the Atlanta-based
Veteran muralists Jack Fralin and Bill Johnson spent three weeks painting the towering sign in May, as passers-by stopped to chat or snap photos.
“When you’re doing these signs, it’s a communal affair,” Fralin, who has painted dozens of murals for
The Vigo County Historical Museum building was built in 1895 to house Ehrmann Manufacturing. In the 1920s and ‘30s,
Fralin and Johnson – who sadly passed away days after finishing the projects – used historical photos of the signs were used to re-create a vintage panel on the mural’s south end, while a north section features the commemorative logo for the Coke bottle centennial.
“Our company has never painted anything larger than this in our history of over 116 years,” emphasized Todd Marty, market unit vice president,
Coke Consolidated launched the ghost signs restoration project in 2011 to refresh old murals that had faded and bring them back to life. “They’re an important part of our history and the history of small towns and cities like Terre Haute,” said Jennifer Richmond, director of state government affairs for
Painted wall signs were one of the earliest forms of
By the 1950s, boomtowns became virtual ghost towns as residents flocked to bigger cities and businesses fled downtowns for the suburbs. Billboards gradually replaced painted signs, which were costlier to produce, and the vintage ads almost completely disappeared by the ‘70s.
Main Street began to mount a comeback in the late-‘80s and early-‘90s, however, thanks to a renewed interest in historic preservation. And for many towns, bringing back the beloved murals from yesteryear has been a logical – and economical – way to recover a sense of nostalgia.
More on Journey
'It's the Real Thing': Restored
Coca-ColaMural Inspires Community Reflection in Colorado
'Ghost Signs Reborn': Restored
Coca-ColaMurals Refresh Southern Downtowns
Roadside History: 5 Little-Known Facts About
- Coca-Cola Refreshes Iconic Manuel's Tavern Murals
- Coca-Cola and Fans Celebrate World’s First 3D Robotic Sign in Times Square