In 2012, the Main Street Advisory Board wanted to add public art to downtown. They created a mural grant program encouraging building owners to add murals to their buildings. Have fun exploring our downtown and feel free to photograph and spread the joy of art! We continue to add more each year... some are also on the interiors of businesses, and although most are new, some are as old as the 1930s!
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1. 102 E Main Street. This mural celebrates the Yadkin Valley Wine Region, showcasing the old (tobacco farms) now becoming viticultural assets in our area, the vineyards. Since Elkin sits directly between 2 state parks, the artist depicted Stone Mountain and (way in the distance) Pilot Mountain State Parks as well. This mural was a public/private partnership project.
2. 115 W Market St. This building's owner moved here in 1980 and fell in love with the license plates on everyone's car stating "ELKIN - The Best Little Town in NC". Those plates had been circulating on Elkin cars since the 1920's. This mural showcases businesses from the past, that are no longer open in Elkin, but made their mark: Chatham Blankets, Elkin Canning Company, Brendle's Dept Store (headquartered here), and the McNeill Bottling Company. There is also a bus token depicted (for employees who worked at the mill) and a shout out to Home Furniture, which was in this building prior to the current owner's purchase.
3. Corners of S Bridge St and E Standard St. This sepia-toned mural honors the memory of Elkin's famous Hugh Chatham Memorial Bridge, which used to stand proud one block east of this mural's location. The mural also provides an image of the old train depot that was just north of this mural, on the north side of the railroad tracks. Both were torn down with much dismay; the bridge by the DOT when it was deemed unsafe, and the depot removed by the railroad (supposedly during the middle of the night!).
4. Elkin became a trail town during the past decade, and this mural was added to 111 W Market St as the building owner wanted to honor the hard work along the Elkin & Allegheny Trail groomed by our volunteer trails group, the Elkin Valley Trails Association, as well as show the numerous trails that intersect in our downtown. Some of the trails in downtown include the NC Mountains-to-Sea Trail (along Main Street), the Overmountain Victory Trail (at the west end of downtown along the Big Elkin Creek), the Yadkin River Blue Trail, and the Daniel Boone Trail (the marker stands in the lot in front of this mural along Hwy 21, also called Bridge St. It was once an old Indian Trail Boone would have used to access Virginia.
5. Van Hoy Jewelers added a mural to the side of their wall at 111 E Main St in 2019. The building was originally the Bank of Elkin, which opened in 1921. This image is what the building originally looked like, until sometime in the mid-1900s when previous owners changed the front facade to accommodate retail display windows.
6. At the Heritage & Visitor Center, located at 257 Standard St, step inside and see the display showcasing the Revolutionary War's Overmountain Victory Trail that started in Elkin. The mural shows the men preparing to cross the Yadkin River as they head southwest from Elkin's Mustering Field (now Elkin Municipal Park) toward King's Mountain, South Carolina. Learn more at the display panels underneath.
7. Take a trip back in time at 125 W Main Street (currently REMAX Realty). During a recent renovation in 2014 the building's owner decided to take the paneling off the interior walls and bring it back to its original brick. As the workers chiseled away, one yelled for everyone to stop! Underneath layers of wallpaper, paint, and other wall coverings that were painstakingly peeled away, they noticed there was art of some sort painted into the plaster. The renovation halted, and various fresco paintings were uncovered, depicting advertisements of actual downtown businesses open in the 1930's. You're welcome to drop in to see them, but if REMAX is closed, you can still see them through the windows.
8. Visit Dirty Joe's Coffee at 132 E Market St, and you'll see Dirty Joe in action sipping on his favorite cup o' Joe ... depicted in this fun mural by local artist, Geoffrey Walker.
9. The Yadkin Valley Railroad travels right through Elkin's downtown. They drop off various old cars that rotate weekly, monthly, or whenever it's their turn to move on to the next town. This is a traveling graffiti exhibit that is forever changing. Many take photos in front of the images for prom photos, weddings, and even just for fun. You never know what the next train will bring...
10. Look closely and you'll find a variety of little murals tucked throughout downtown, with many more to come. Sometimes we even add some chalk art along our sidewalks for fun... and if you look hard enough, we have literary quotes hidden amongst the buildings in downtown too!