One of downtown Denison’s longtime sights may soon get a facelift and return to the streetscape of Main Street. The owners of 613 W. Main recently announced plans to restore a mural for Ashburn’s Ice Cream — a longstanding fixture of downtown Denison — along the outside wall of the building.
The restoration of the mural comes alongside plans to convert the building from its current use as a law office into an art studio and gallery, owner Paul Jones said.
“There are so many people that comment on it,” Jones said. “There are so many people who are nostalgic about that building. People keep asking us if we plan to reopen as an ice cream store.”
Jones said he has owned the building for several years but only recently started efforts to restore the mural. The first step in this effort was convincing his neighbor to give permission to remove a large tree that had grown along the outside wall and had obscured the majority of the mural.
After more than 50 years, the majority of the facade had faded or been worn away by weather and off-colored bricks marked spots where the wall appeared to have been repaired over the years. Despite the wear, the message that Ashburn’s Ice Cream is “always good” still stood clear through the faded letters.
Once it was exposed, Jones said the mural sparked some debate on whether it should be restored or left in its weathered state, untouched. Ultimately, Jones said he decided instead to attempt the restoration.
Jones said he has considered hiring an artist to restore the facade, but found it to be cost prohibitive when he asked for bids. Jones said he took a bid from one artist, who estimated the cost to restore the art at about $5,000.
With the high cost, Jones said he is considering his options for outside funding for the project, including possible facade incentives through the Denison Development Alliance.
Jones approached the DDA for assistance with a separate facade project previously, but this was prior to his decision to restore the mural. With the DDA’s grants, Jones would be required to provide a 50 percent match, and he would still need to raise $2,500 for the restoration.
The restoration comes as Jones hopes to convert the building into a gallery and art studio for his wife Glenda Jones, who makes art and jewelry from fused glass. Jones said the conversion could take between one and two months to complete. Currently, the building serves as a law office for Charles Sherrard, who is in the process of moving, Jones said.
Local historian and author Donna Hunt said she believes that Ashburn’s Ice Cream first opened in Denison about 75 years ago and remained a major part of the Denison community for about 50 years. During its heyday in the mid-1950s, the ice cream parlor was a frequent hot spot for many students attending the nearby Denison High School, she said.
“All of the kids always went to Ashburn’s after school,” Hunt said. “It was the place to be.”