How Art Restoration Can Bring Vintage Public Art Back to Life


By John W. Hammerschlag

Courtesy of Metropolis Premier Parking

Driving through older American cities and towns, one might notice “ghost murals” – murals painted decades ago and faded by the elements and time. Once such mural graces the exterior of a building at 312 2nd Street, SW, overlooking the Gas Lot in Roanoke, Virginia. Located at 322 2nd Street, SW, the Gas Lot is one of our many Roanoke surface lots operated by Metropolis / Premier Parking.

Created in 1979, the mural is based on the 1975 pastel “Accentuated Forms in Space,” painted by acclaimed Roanoke artist, Dorothy Gillespie. Born in 1920, she enjoyed a career as an artist for 70 years and was a significant figure during the 1960s and 1970s feminist art movement.

The 50’ X 50’ mural is one of only two created from Ms. Gillespie’s work and was the result of a collaboration between the local art community and the artist. The mural had faded over the decades and area residents began expressing interest in its restoration. Thanks to support from local community groups, the original mural was restored in Spring 2023 by local artists Jack Fralin and Dana James of Best Bet Arts & Media.

The mural was rededicated on May 15, 2023, bringing a significant contribution to the city’s vibrant art community back to life.

John Hammerschlag is President of Hammerschlag & Co., Inc. and is a member of IPMI’s Planning, Design, and Construction Committee. He can be reached at