Chamber Chat - Murals

Oct 22

By Meg Moss


There’s an economic advantage to all the art we’re seeing around town. Sanford is hosting visitors from surrounding counties who want to come see what everyone is talking about: our murals.

Liz Whitmore, the Historic Preservation Planner for the City of Sanford has recently provided guided tours for the Moore County Historical Society as well as their Arts Society, and the Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association, and their Arts Director. “There’s an economic tie” Whitmore said, “people are coming from all over to see these.” And as we know, when people come to town to see the murals, they will most likely stay to eat and shop. It’s good for our local businesses. “People are really talking about it” Whitmore said.

North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore took a ride around town with Representative John Sauls and was impressed by what he saw. Sauls also brought a colleague from Charlotte to see what’s going on in our downtown. “To me,” Sauls said, “the murals are a part of our landscape. The streetscape, the murals. It just all stands out. It’s part of the big picture.” Sauls also noted that it’s the attitude of our commissioners, councilman, the airport authority and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance all working together for economic development and growth in Sanford.

According to an article in The Sanford Herald, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann stated “Apparently the legislature feels that public art is a form of economic development,” in reference to funds that came through the state budget and are for an “economic development project titled ‘Sanford Mural Restoration Project’.

Not only are the murals eye-catching, but each one depicts a piece of Sanford’s history. The first mural in the series of eight was completed in May of 2015. The “Sanford Spinners” honors all the ballplayers who played for the Sanford Spinners in the Tobacco League. The Spinners played at Sanford’s Temple Park, the field and grandstand (which no longer exists) was built by the Works Progress Administration. Howard Auman, who is depicted in the mural, pitched for the Spinners. This mural was sponsored by local business, Sanford Contractors.

If you decide to take a walking tour of the murals, the next one you will come to is the restoration of the Dr. Pepper mural on the side of Bert’s Furniture Store. It was sponsored by Sanford Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper.

Next on the route is the “Visionary Builders” on the corner of Wall Street and Horner Blvd. This mural honors Link Boykin - a local builder and business owner in the 1900’s. Mr. WB Wicker was the first principal of the South Sanford Graded School. This mural was sponsored by Knott's Funeral Home, Downtown Sanford Inc., Lee County Arts Council, Wilson and Reives, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), African Methodist Episcopal Zion Chruch and citizen donations.

The most recently completed mural, the first 3-D mural in the state of North Carolina, was completed on the side of Yarborough’s. The Fairview Dairy mural was funded by Grants from the Honorable John Sauls of the NC House of Representatives, the Duke Energy Foundation, a Gift from Carol and Anne Yarborough, Paradise Towing, and citizen donations.

The “Off to War” World War II Tribute, located on the side of Illusions Hair Salon on Moore Street, honors all the men and women of Sanford and Lee County who have and continue to serve and protect our country. It was sponsored by the artist, Chris Dalton.

The “Herb Thomas and the Fabulous Hudson Hornet” mural was sponsored by Central Carolina Enterprise Park. Thomas was instrumental in the birth of NASCAR. A native of Lee County, Thomas was also the inspiration for the character "Doc Hudson" in the movie Cars.

The “Silent Wings” mural, located on the side of ReDoux Home Vintage, was sponsored by the Blalock, Perry and Williams families. This mural honors Lee Roy Perry, Frank Blalock Sr. and Edward ‘Bucky’ Williams, who were Sanford native Glider Pilots during WWII.

Lastly, you can take a drive onto Main Street in Jonesboro to see the Jonesboro Cornet Band Circa 1905, which was sponsored by the Jonesboro Historical Society, Dr. Larry O’Connell, and descendants of the Cornet Band and citizen donations.

If you would like to get a walking map of the Mural Art Trail, come and see us at the Buggy Company, located at 115 Chatham Street.

The City of Sanford Appearance Commission is largely responsible for the murals project. The overall focus of the Commission is to promote the historic preservation and beautification efforts in the City of Sanford, and to formulate regulations and policies to promote those goals. Because of the scope of the murals project, it has now formed a subcommittee, known as the public arts subcommittee. Members of the Appearance Commission are volunteers who are appointed by the City Council, but anyone can volunteer to serve on the public arts subcommittee. Both meetings are open the public.

Dave Schau, just one member of the Appearance Commission, is serving in his third term, and now also sits on the public arts subcommittee. He says it’s really rewarding to see their hard work being put into action. The committee members are able to consider the designs and proofs that the artists render before the first drop of paint touches the brick.

The murals project can be considered a public arts project, a historic preservation project, or an economic development project; but any way you look at it, the murals are a win for our city. 

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