On Saturday, more than 40 volunteers joined muralist Kevin Bate to help paint a multipaneled mural along the front of the dilapidated former St. George Hotel.
The project was an effort by River City Co.’s Clean and Green program to "cultivate and advocate for a vibrant and healthy downtown."
Marta Alder purchased the property in 2013 and is currently working with River City Co., the Lyndhurst Foundation and Cornerstones Inc. to determine what the renovation and preservation process will look like.
The four-story brick building was constructed in 1917 to offer a place of rest for travelers arriving at Terminal Station, now the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. It has been abandoned since the 1980s, and a 2004 fire destroyed much of the back portion of the building; in 2009, much of it was removed to prevent a complete collapse. Click here to view a photo slideshow of the condition of the St. George Hotel in 2014.
Organizers had hoped to add a little color to the blighted first-story sidewalk during their annual Clean and Green program, but the April event was canceled because of inclement weather.
To make up for the lost day, crews of volunteers worked on special project requests that were submitted ahead of the event. One of those projects involved River City Co. volunteers and Collier Construction helping remove fencing and clean out the alcove area of the St. George Hotel. A mural was also planned during that time, which became the basis for Saturday's installation.
Bate's design features a series of windows replicating what passersby might see. The designs include open windows with flowers, air-conditioning units, halfway-open blinds and even a stained glass window. One window includes a telescope next to a display featuring a dog and cat.
"I just designed it and threw it up on the wall," Bate said. "It really was paint by number. [Volunteers] got to pick the flower colors ... and those that couldn't work on the wall were asked to trace the bricks and fill them in."
The entire project took only a single day to complete, and the results are a stunning improvement.
"We are excited to beautify the space and create a welcoming sidewalk experience on that block until development can occur," said Amy Donahue, marketing and communications manager for River City Co. "As well as this mural, we’ve finished a basketball restoration project and parking lot restriping at the Bethlehem Center, and graffiti removal and painting on Patten Parkway."
Donahue said other projects are still pending, such as exterior and interior improvements at the Houston Museum in the Bluff View Art District later this fall.
Bate has worked with River City's Open Spaces project and led efforts involving the McCallie Walls Mural Project. His art can be seen throughout town on various buildings. Click here for more of his work.