Blacksburg Food Time, mosaic demolished
BLACKSBURG — The Food Time gas station on South Main Street in Blacksburg was demolished earlier this week, but it was the mosaic on the side of the building that had residents and art-enthusiasts talking.
Food Time, which sat across the street from the Town of Blacksburg government building, was flattened Monday afternoon with the help of a demolition crew.
The land will be used in a new development coming to the town called The Brownstone, a parking, commercial and residential mixed-use structure.
The mosaic, which has been on the side of the gas station for about 15 years, was constructed by public school students, teachers and volunteers.
Taylor White of Christiansburg was sad to see the mosaic go.
“I thought it was neat because my little brother helped make it,” White said. “It was pretty on an ugly building, but I’m sad they couldn’t save it.”
Others, such as Blacksburg resident Jonathan Hedrick, were ready to embrace the change.
“I am more excited about what will be built,” Hedrick said. “It is always nice to see new development in Blacksburg.”
Brownstone developer Steve Hill said a lot of residents stopped by to see him and asked about saving the art.
“There was a lot of general interest, but nobody wanted to put any money up,” Hill said. “I don’t think it was physically possible to salvage it.”
Town Neighborhood Services Coordinator Kim Kirk said more than a dozen citizens contacted her office with questions about saving the mosaic.
The task was not a town-sponsored event, Kirk said, and was more of a courtesy performed by her office to help citizens get in contact with the right people to save it.
“The relationship was just a courtesy, and this was a private-property issue,” Kirk said. “The town did recognize the value to the people of Blacksburg, so we did this as a courtesy.”
Kirk said her office researched every possible avenue for saving the mosaic and filed a report.
In the report sent from Kirk to Karen Drake, the town’s comprehensive planner, Kirk’s office consulted with an engineering consultant to figure out the costs of shoring and moving the mosaic. Estimates ranged from $11 to 15,000 for the entire project, Kirk said.
Another suggestion in the report allowed residents to take salvaged pieces once the mosaic was demolished, and to Kirk’s knowledge, there weren’t any residents who took them.
Kirk also contacted the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke about saving the mosaic. The museum didn’t have the budget for the project but suggested contacting state agencies for funding, Kirk said.
According to Kirk, a citizen volunteered to contact the state agencies, but the citizen was told the project would not have been approved because it wasn’t old enough.
“It would’ve been nice to save it, but there was no guarantee that it would stay in one place as we lifted it off the building,” Kirk said. “When it was demolished, the mosaic just crumbled.”
The final suggestion was for the town to document the mosaic through photography.
Photographer John Kline agreed to document the mosaic at no cost. He will transfer the image to a piece of vinyl, which will be displayed in two windows in downtown Blacksburg.
The documentation of the mosaic will be done through the town’s “UnTagging the Town” program, which will help future projects, such as the efforts of saving the mosaic.
Money to create the sign, which will cost about $500, will be taken from the UnTagging the Town budget, according to Kirk.
Although the wall wasn’t saved, Kirk said residents can still remember the mosaic by purchasing T-shirts with a picture of the artwork on them. All proceeds will benefit the town’s UnTagging the Town program.
“It was a great attempt and it was a great thought, but it just didn’t get done,” Hill said.
“Everybody in Blacksburg made a good-faith effort.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627