During the third week of June, a yearlong effort to install the town of Mount Pleasant’s first “Layers of History” mural will be completed.
The base image of the mural, called “At Your Service,” was provided by the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum and expertly reconstructed and colorized by artist Caswell Turner of Cicada Studios, located in downtown Mount Pleasant.
The image shows auto shop workers in coveralls and a little boy standing in front of the Barringer Motor Company next to a Texaco gasoline pump. The photo, taken in the late 1920s or early 1930s, also was featured in the traveling Smithsonian exhibit, “The Way We Worked,” in 2018 at the Eastern Cabarrus Historical Society Museum.
The mural has been supported by a matching grant from the Grassroots Arts Program of the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency, and the Cabarrus Arts Council. The mural will be formally presented at a ribbon-cutting during the town’s Independence Celebration on Saturday, June 26, at 7 p.m.
The mural is intended to be the first in a series that will make Mount Pleasant a living museum. The idea behind the “Layers of History” mural program is to enlarge and artistically colorize historic photographs from throughout Mount Pleasant’s history and place them near the locations of buildings that are no longer standing or from the vantage point where the original photograph was taken.
“A place exists at more than one point in time,” said Erin Burris, Planning and Economic Development director for the town. “These images are a reminder of that and are intended to engage the public and add to the vibrancy of the downtown.”
The addition of murals around the town was one of the implementation strategies of the downtown goal in the Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2017.
The first “Layers of History” mural will be on the side of the Barringer-Barnhardt Building that was best known as the location for the Barringer Motor Company. The building is at 8342 W. Franklin St. (N.C. 73) next to What-a-Burger No. 13.
According to research by local historian Ben Callahan, the site likely held a livery stable and was later purchased in 1899 by Adam Nussman for use by the Cook & Foil’s General Store for warehouse space.
Nussman made improvements to the site to include a shoe shop and barber shop. The Rev. Paul Barringer purchased the property in 1919, and in 1920, Barringer’s son, L.H. Barringer, built a brick garage on the site. In 1939, Barringer operated a Ford car dealership and garage from the building through the 1950s.
In 1963, Barringer sold the building to Edward S. Blackwelder, who continued to maintain the garage portion of the building.
Sometime during the mid-20th century, a new brick façade was added to two buildings to make them appear as one building and include storefronts. In the 1960s and 1970s, the popular teen hangout “The Brass Bottle” operated from one of the storefronts.
The building was sold to Thomas and Hazel Safrit in 1973 and sold again a decade later to David and Doris Barnhardt, who converted the garage into an antiques and furniture store. Over the next 30 years, the storefronts included a music store, a pet store, a florist shop and a church.
The building is now owned by the Barnhardts’ daughter, Francie Black, who worked with the town to allow the mural on the side building wall. Current building tenants include the Well Doctor, One and Done Home Inspections, Honey Bee Septic, and Honeycutt Quality Tire.
Contact town of Mount Pleasant Planning & Economic Development Director Erin Burris at 704-436-9803 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more about the “Layers of History” mural program or if you would like to donate to the town’s Culture and Recreation Fund to assist with future mural projects or parks and recreation improvements.