Group works to get historic mural restored in Bedford

BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ7)-- A group of people in Downtown Bedford is working to get a historic mural restored.

On the corner of Depot St. and N. Bridge Street, you will see a newer mural that reads “Bedford Arts and Antique District”. That painting was done in 2010, but if you look closer, behind the painting are remnants of a Coca Cola mural dating back to the 1890s.

When Coca Cola was founded, instead of the advertisements we see on TV today, they used murals spread across the rural south to get the word out about their product.

However, as the media became more commercial, the murals faded. They are now known as “ghost murals”.

In 2016, the town sent a letter to Coca Cola to see if they would commission the mural and restore it. The company restores murals across the country and Bedford wanted to be added to the list. Due to a lack of support and awareness, they denied the request. However, that is not stopping the town.

“Obviously we are always looking toward the future and toward progress,” said Thomas Messier who conducted research on the mural. “But it's important to remember the history and things that made our town thriving and beautiful in the past.”

That’s why Bedford Main Street is trying to get the word out again. The group circulated a petition that received over 300 votes in support. They say, the mural now has the support and awareness.

In 2017 the town also changed an ordinance that was a hurdle in the process. The town now allows historic advertisements on the side of buildings.

With this work in mind, Bedford Main Street will be going through the appeals process to hopefully have the mural restored by Coca Cola.

The group is also asking that anyone with an original picture of the mural contact them. They haven’t been able to find an original shot yet and since it’s now partially covered, there’s no way of knowing what was under the painting.