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Photo by Gerry Morrell

Coca-Cola mural discovered

An astounding number of the world’s most incredible historical artifacts were discovered completely by accident while digging in the dirt or knocking down walls—including Turkey’s Derinkuyu Underground City, the Venus de Milo and the Rosetta Stone.

Now Lafayette has an incredible find of its own, one that might not make the history books but is certainly a historical treasure for the city. In June 2015, while demolition crews were peeling away the exterior siding on the circa-1905 building at 201 S. Public Road, they discovered a vibrant Coca-Cola mural hiding behind it. City officials and restoration experts were quickly called in, and it was determined that the vintage sign, which also reads “Pat and Gar’s Hi-Way Bar,” dates back to the late 1940s or early ’50s. It features the classic Coke slogan “It’s the Real Thing,” introduced by the company in the 1940s, and the original sign painter faithfully adhered to Coca-Cola’s strict guidelines for such murals, including exactly how the letters needed to be drawn.

According to Sally Martin, speaking for the mural committee, the mural easily could have been destroyed without anyone even knowing it was there. Since asbestos was discovered in the building, crews had to follow federal asbestos-mitigation guidelines, which means they couldn’t just start knocking down walls without taking things apart section by section.

The mural was eventually cut out of the wall, framed for added stability and moved to the fire station for restoration, which was recently completed. The committee is now working with Boulder architect John Feinberg, who is designing all of the plans for the mural’s upcoming placement on a new building at 103 N. Public Road, including a new frame, how to place it on the side of the building, how to protect it from damage, and a streetscape to best highlight it.

Committee members will be circulating at Lafayette’s monthly Art Night Out events (June 17, July 15, Aug. 19), updating community members on the project’s progress and continuing to raise tax-deductible funds. Once the mural is ready to be placed—hopefully by the end of the summer, Martin says—the committee will host a celebratory event, which will be announced on the city’s Facebook page and on www.cityoflafayette.com/mural.

“This is such an exciting find,” Martin says. “People call it ‘the Coke mural,’ which is fine for identification, but it’s really much more than that—it’s Americana art. It’s such a wonderful example of the sense of community that existed fifty years ago.”