A hand-painted Coca-Cola mural from 1966 was fully uncovered last week in downtown Concord.
Metal siding had concealed most of the brick building on 2 Union St. S. since the late 1960s. When building owners Marion and Barbara Bost discovered the mural in Dec. 2009, they began working with the Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Coca-Cola and others to begin restoration efforts.
Clarence Hampton, the late Cabarrus County artist, signed the mural on May 24, 1966. He is survived by two daughters and several grandchildren in Kannapolis and is the maternal great uncle of Vickie Weant, the recently retired executive director for CDDC, a local nonprofit involved in the mural's restoration efforts.
The Cabarrus Avenue wall sign, which displays a smiling woman holding a bottle, is considered by some a historic piece of Americana.
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The Historic Concord Preservation Trust, a nonprofit established in 1993 to preserve downtown Concord, paid for preparation work for the sign's restoration and the removal of aluminum siding. Coca-Cola will fund the restoration of the sign.
Mayor Scott Padget asked his contacts at Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated in Charlotte (they host the annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway) if they wanted to partner with the Concord community to restore the sign and they agreed to help.
Restoration work will be done by retired Charlotte sign painter, Andy Thompson, who began his 30-year career in 1958, three days after graduating high school. He continued painting signs throughout the region on a contract-basis about 10 years after he retired and still restores area signs that he or others have painted.
A three-man crew with Kannapolis Construction Company began tearing down aluminum siding on Feb. 9 and had the mural completely uncovered by about 2 p.m. The area construction company, which has been in business for 60-plus years, recently built Concord's new Fire Station No. 10.
Randy Weddington, 35, of Concord, was a superintendent on the siding-removal job. He said he and his crew felt some pride about the job because they were involved in the town's history. He also had engagement pictures taken with his wife, April, in front of similar mural in Salisbury.
Marion and his wife grew up in the area and remember passing the building as kids when it was a Pearl Drugstore, Scottie Stores (a general store) and a men's clothing store. He and his wife agreed to let the CDDC take on the project in hopes to enhance properties downtown. Marion, who bought the property in 1969, expects the project to be finished in a few months or less.
"It's just like I remember," he said. "I think it'll be something that will draw some conversation. I've seen several people come by with cameras."
The budget for the total project is $15,000. That includes uncovering of the sign, repairs to the building and restoration of the sign.
"The status of the tag line is up for discussion between the CDDC and the Bosts and both parties will need to agree on what is done with the tag line, it is undecided at this time," said Diane Young, executive director of the CDDC. "Now that it is uncovered the sign restoration contractor can come to look at the condition of the sign. I anticipate restoration will be completed this spring, with a reception after it is finished."