A missing mural in Knoxville's Old City has some local musicians and fans in mourning.
The Knoxville Music History mural was painted on the side of a Jackson Avenue building, and featured big names in music, like Dolly Parton and Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong. It was painted about 20 years ago.
Now, it's been painted over.
Leigh Burch, III of Terminus Real Estate owns the building. A spokesperson told 10News that the company was working to restore several old buildings in the Old City, and this mural had been vandalized with vulgar graffiti.
They wanted to pressure wash to clean the building's exterior, but that would have also wiped out the mural.
But Liza Zenni, executive director of the Arts & Culture Alliance, said Burch contacted her in January asking to take it down.
"He said it looks tired, and I said we can help you refresh it,” Zenni said. “The next thing I knew, it was painted over, completely destroyed, gone forever.”
The company is open to working with the local community to recreate or make a new type of music history art piece.
Patience Melnik, director of the group Keep Knoxville Beautiful, said the mural's loss was completely unexpected. They held a dedication ceremony for the mural in 2000.
“When I look at this wall, I just think about all the many hours and the many people who contributed to the mural back in 2000,” she said. “It is public art and it really belonged to everybody, and it could’ve been removed and saved.”
Melnik and Zenni said they hope those who donated their time and money to the mural will be compensated, and that their city doesn't lose another piece of its history.
“We hope that steps will be put in place to legally protect all of our other irreplaceable pieces of public art," Zenni said.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero echoed the loss in the statement she released about the mural.
“I am sorry for the loss of this well-loved mural, which had become a significant part of the Old City landscape. Although it was on private property, a lot of people’s time, energy and donations went into creating it, and it was a great tribute to Knoxville music and history," said said. "It is unfortunate that other options were not explored before it was painted over. As we move forward with public funding for more murals across the city, we will seek ways to protect them.”