HANNIBAL | A drive down Market Street reveals visible changes taking place on a daily basis.
Ray Harvey's murals of an American flag waving in the wind, a 50's service station scene and a historic image taking shape on Hannibal's oldest fire station building each reflect revitalization efforts connected to family ties dating back to when Brad Walden's grandfather started Hannibal Paint and Auto Body in 1944.
Walden's brother, Jeff, owns the business today, and Brad joined brothers Chad and Larry to open Walden Bros. Auto Sales in 1996. Brad Walden has been restoring buildings along Market Street and working with Harvey to commission the murals for the past several years, and is working on a “marketing plan” to continue attracting new businesses to the once-thriving area.
Some buildings in Hannibal have been left to “sit and rot” by their owners, but Walden, with Walden Properties, is always looking for buildings that are solid and ready for a complete renovation.
“If a building has a good purpose, then by golly, I'd love to own it, love to fix it up, and love to get it right back in there and use it for what it's meant to be,” Walden said. “All this comes down to community pride, too. I love Hannibal, and I want to make it the best I can with the resources that I have. I take a lot of pride in that, that's for sure.”
Walden said he enjoys uncovering history during the process of restoration — massive wooden beams in the fire station basement bear chew marks from horses who raced with firefighters and hose carts during the 1800s. Along with the various buildings being renovated, Walden is working to promote Market Street. He stressed the area has lots to offer, including light industry, automotive repair shops, two schools, day cares and restaurants. And the murals Harvey has painted illustrate the rejuvenation happening along Market Street.
The first mural is a 60foot tall American flag covering the wall at 3500 Market Street, which replaced a small flag painted to commemorate the 9/11 attacks. Down the street, a 1950's scene, complete with a shiny Corvette, is painted on the wall of a former service station at 2000 Market Street. The new mural taking shape at the former fire station also will echo Market Street's history. At the same time, businesses are abuzz with what the future can bring to the area.
Peg Colyar and her daughter, Andrea Brown, co-own the Quilting Body Shop at 3605 Market Street. Colyar said business has been “nice and steady” since they opened their doors in January, and they're getting to know more customers and fellow business owners every day. She plans to place a four-foot-by-four-foot barn quilt on the east side of her business to add a unique touch and invite more customers to stop in. She is glad she opened her business on Market Street, bringing a sevenyear dream to reality.
“I'm really happy with our location. It's been very good and the people down here are nice. I had heard it was a bad area, but it's not a bad area — it's very nice,” Colyar said. “All of the people in the businesses around here are friendly, so that always helps, too.”