Arts & Culture
4:45 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Iconic Company Restores Ghost Murals in Appalachia

Long before website banners, T.V. or radio commercials, and electronic billboards there were murals. Coca-Cola Consolidated is working to restore its faded advertisements, or ghost signs, across Appalachia. Ghost signs are the murals painted on buildings at the turn of the century that are now faded disappearing.  One of the largest murals, so far was unveiled last week in Hinton in  Summers County. Along with the strong sentimental value to the rural residents, the signs still have a strong marketing value for the global company.

                                               Advertisement in Hinton, W.Va. before ...

The advertisement was considered a "ghost mural" because it was faded and chipping.
The advertisement was considered a "ghost mural" because it was faded and chipping.
Credit Jack Fralin / CCBCC

                                    Advertisement in Hinton, W.Va. during restoration ...

A mural artist from from Roanoke, Va. worked had assistants to help restore the mural in Hinton, W.Va.
A mural artist from from Roanoke, Va. worked had assistants to help restore the mural in Hinton, W.Va.
Credit Jack Fralin / CCBCC

                                          Advertisement in Hinton, W.Va. after restoration ...

The mural in Hinton, W.Va. stands 17 feet tall and 60 feet wide, one of the largest ghost signs restored by Coca-Cola Consolidated. It’s one of thousands of Coca-Cola ads painted at the turn of the century, many of them in the rural south.
The mural in Hinton, W.Va. stands 17 feet tall and 60 feet wide, one of the largest ghost signs restored by Coca-Cola Consolidated. It’s one of thousands of Coca-Cola ads painted at the turn of the century, many of them in the rural south.
Credit Jessica Lilly

Like other towns across Appalachia, Hinton now deals with a drug epidemic, empty store fronts, and a high poverty rate. Some folks in the area hope the restoration, brings revitalization to the town.

This mural was painted around 1916 in Hinton, a railroad town that by 1929 had three national banks, two hospitals, ten wholesale firms and seventy-five retail stores.

"Before there was the world famous sign in New York City in Time Square, there was the sign in Hinton, West Virginia. So you can say that that sign in New York was a rip off of the sign right here in Hinton, West Virginia," said Lauren Steele, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Coca-Cola Consolidated.

The company has restored about 15 murals across three Appalachian states so far. Some of the locations include:

  • Rocky Mount, VA
  • Ronceverte, W.Va.
  • Concord, N.C.
  • Hendersonville, N.C.
  • Roanoke, Va.
  • Salisbury, NC
  • North Wilkesboro, N.C.
  • Mebane, N.C.
  • Hinton, W.Va.
  • Ronceverte, W.Va.

Coca-Cola plans to complete ghost sign restorations in the following towns:

  • Monroe, N.C.
  • Morgantown, W.Va.
  • Elkin, N.C.
  • Eden, N.C.
  • Mt. Airy, N.C.
  • Cherryville, N.C.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Bristol, Va.
  • Farmville, Va.
  • Hendersonville, N.C.
  • Shelby, N.C.
  • Charleston, W.Va.
  • Camden Park (an amusement park in W.Va.)

The company expects the list to continue to grow. The mural artists are taking a break during the height of the summer heat. The next restoration project will start up in early Fall.