Nfld. & Labrador

Corner Brook pizza shop exploring options for mural after online outrage

Louis Gee's Pizza has agreed to hold off installing vinyl siding on a section of its building, after public outcry over the covering up of a 20-year-old mural.

Louis Gee's staff question why people didn't approach them to voice concerns

A wooden frame recently was built over this mural on the side of Louis Gee's Pizza on West Street in Corner Brook. The mural, which was painted in 1997, is peeling away so the pizza shop owners decided to cover it up with siding and refurbish the outside of the building. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

The owners of a Corner Brook pizza shop have agreed to hold off installing vinyl siding on a section of their building, after public outcry over the covering up of a 20-year-old mural.

The mural, which depicts Lauchie McDougall, also known as the human wind gauge, was painted on the West Street building owned by Louis Gee's Pizza in 1997.

McDougall was a farmer in the Wreckhouse region who predicted weather conditions for the Newfoundland railway in the 1940s and 50s.

Joanne Summers, a staff member at Louis Gee's Pizza, says the owners had no idea people were so outraged at the covering up of the mural. (Brian McHugh/CBC)

Recently, Louis Gee's owners decided to spruce up the building with new siding, covering up the concrete wall with the deteriorating mural. 

"That picture is falling off the side of the building. You can go right now and take it in sections and just peel it completely off," Louis Gee's staff member Joanne Summers told the Corner Brook Morning Show.

"Right now it is an eyesore, and being responsible business owners we decided to give it a facelift to make it look nice for the community."

Louis Gee's has decided to hold off on installing siding over the Lauchie McDougall mural while it works with the Downtown Business Association to try and come up with an alternative. (Google Maps)

Surprised by reaction

Little did they know that some members of the community would be devastated when the work began. A post in a local historical group on Facebook got hundreds of comments condemning the move.

Some even went so far as to call for a boycott of Louis Gee's

Summers said the shop had looked into ways to keep the mural, but determined it would cost thousands of dollars to restore. After some discussion she said it was decided that the best thing to do for both the business and the neighbourhood was to replace the peeling mural with some new siding.

The owners were shocked when someone showed them all the negative comments on Facebook, and they questioned why nobody came to them in person to express concerns first.

"We didn't know ourselves that it meant that much to the community," Summers said.

Siding work on hold

After speaking with the Corner Brook Downtown Business Association, Louis Gee's was told it was their right as building owners to cover up the mural if they want.

Regardless, they've paused the effort as they work with the business association to see if they can generate enough interest to raise money and get the mural restored or repainted.

"I hope myself that we can save it, if it means that much to the people of Corner Brook. That's the backbone of our city," Summers said.

"We are out to do whatever we can to be a part of this community."
 

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show