Brothers bring murals back to life in downtown Albemarle

Published 3:39 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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In order to add some pop to the area, Jack and Eli Williams recently completed two ghost murals in downtown Albemarle.

Ghost murals are old hand-painted advertising signs that have been preserved on buildings for an extended period of time.

Jack, 24, recently completed a 12-foot by 20-foot green and white mural of the former Davis Motor Company logo on the side of a building along West Main Street that used to be the company’s headquarters. Jack and Eli, 20, finished an 8-foot by 18-foot yellow and red image of the Nehi Cola logo on the side of Roger Martin Gallery, across from Pfeiffer University’s Center for Health Sciences.

Jack Williams completed his green and white Davis Motor Company mural in late January.

The Nehi Cola mural is one of two such images in the state. The other is also in Albemarle at the old bottling plant.

The Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation’s design committee planned the two projects and chose the locations as they are highly visible areas that people frequently utilize as they enter the downtown area. Each cost about $3,500 to complete.

Funding from the mural project came from the ADDC’s public art budget, according to ADDC Director Joy Almond. The ADDC’s budget is supported by fundraisers and donations from the public. The ADDC is currently exploring additional grant funding for future public art projects.

“It’s just cool to see the downtown area grow since we’ve grown up here,” Jack said. “I just remember we would always walk around downtown and it was kind of empty for a while and now it just seems like things are popping up everywhere.”

With the city recently establishing a social district for people to consume alcoholic drinks in designated outdoor areas within downtown, the brothers hope the murals will help further increase foot traffic.

While working on the murals the past few weeks, the brothers appreciate the visible support from people across the community.

“It’s really nice seeing how happy everyone is,” Jack said. “Everyone has been super supportive and a lot of people have stopped by to talk with us.”

Eli Williams works on the Nehi Cola mural.

The pieces are not the brothers’ first public art displays in the area. Jack restored the old Pepsi sign near Vac & Dash for his high school senior project. In 2020, he created several public art pieces at the old Sinclair gas station on the corner of North Second and Montgomery, including a large Kool-Aid Man image.

Jack, who has a degree in studio art from the UNC Wilmington, also completed murals in and around downtown Wadesboro.

For his part, Eli has completed murals in Locust and Chapel Hill, where he is a junior at UNC studying studio art.

The brothers plan to open their own business specializing in public art displays once Eli graduates.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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