A new mural in Purcellville’s historic downtown corridor isn’t just turning heads—it might also serve as the town’s logo, at least temporarily.
In 2016, Discover Purcellville, a nonprofit that organizes a year-round schedule of community events and raises money to support art-related projects, commissioned graphic designer Addie Moore to paint the 29-by-9-foot “Welcome to Purcellville” mural depicting the town’s character on the side of the Kakouras family’s Purcellville Family Restaurant at the corner of Main Street and South 20th Street. Three years and a new zoning ordinance later, the town in April approved the project. Three months after that, on July 7, Moore stepped down from her scaffold for a final time to gaze at her finished product—a product she said was the largest painting she’s ever done.
“That was a good challenge,” she said.
Inside each letter in the word “Purcellville” are different images of town locations, including the Town Hall, Fireman’s Field, the Purcellville Train Station, the White Palace building, the W&OD Trail, the Nichols Hardware building and the Magnolias at the Mill building. The design came from the painted wine barrel Moore completed three years ago that caught Discover Purcellville’s eye. “That design was received pretty well,” Moore said.
She said the mural is more general and doesn’t feature specific business names, but rather portrayals of the buildings they’re in, along with other images like grape vines instead of specific wineries.
For Moore, the most difficult part of painting the mural was working around the rain and heat, since the latex paint she used wouldn’t adhere to the side of the brick wall in extreme temperatures, and the sheer size of the project, which required her to set up and break down her studio every day. “Scale was a very fun challenge,” she said.
But, Moore said, the community’s reception of the project trumped those challenges. She said that passersby would talk to her as she painted and would frequently bring her water, Gatorade and even ice cream.
Discover Purcellville President Michael Oaks said the mural was paid for by funds raised from different auctions throughout the past few years and took approval from not only the Town Council, but also the town’s Board of Architectural Review. He said that because the board was taking so long to approve the process, he joked at one meeting that if it didn’t approve the mural at its next meeting, he would instead paint a mural reading “Welcome to Round Hill … in two miles.”
Oaks said the nonprofit plans to commission another mural on the side of the It’s Bazaar on 21st Street building in August—one that will be done in a black-and-white airbrush style depicting 1900s Purcellville.
He said both murals are in line with a Virginian trend, noting that the Town of Staunton just celebrated the completion of an eighth mural. “Murals are the things in town now,” he said.
During the July 9 Town Council meeting, Town Manager David Mekarski suggested a “totally radical” marketing idea in which the town could temporarily replace the town seal with a small image of the mural on stationary, business cards and the town website to establish a brand for the town and celebrate the mural.
“This is such a beautiful depiction of the whole character of our community,” he said about the mural.“I think it’s something really dramatic and it really does symbolize who we are.”
Mekarski said he’s now working with Parks & Recreation Division Manager Amie Ware to develop a mockup of what the mural might look like on a pad of stationary to present to the Arts Council and the Economic Development Advisory Committee for consideration.
As for Discover Purcellville, the nonprofit is set to open an art gallery in the historic 1900s gas station building off Main Street across from Walgreens on July 31. Oaks said the nonprofit would sell postcards and other merchandise with the mural’s image at the gallery.