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Old 02-23-2011, 02:48 PM
Location: MAuldin, SC
31 posts, read 60,801 times
Reputation: 60


Thought you might like this.

My name is Marshall Shepherd. My family owns an old BB&T building (formerly Southern National) building in Lumberton NC. The 4 story building was built in 1967 to be the headquarters for SNB. Up until this past month it was owned by the bank. Now it belongs to my family who owns the land around the building. It was the former site of Gov Angus MacLeans home (my great grandfather). When the bank was built they commissioned Joe Cox to build a Color Wall mural inside the building. Below is a story I wrote about the Color Wall and getting it running after 15 years.

"Several months ago a relative told my father about a mural that had been installed in the 1st floor of the building back when it was being built in 1967. AT that time he nor anyone else knew if it still existed. After a few calls it was found that it indeed existed but no one knew if it still worked. See this is not just your ordinary mural. It was designed by Joe Cox an artist out of Raleigh. He was mostly known for his paintings but he created a few of these murals. The one in our building is thought to be the first of it's kind he designed and built. There is another one in the ceiling of the CCB building in Durham. Though I think it is smaller and is currently not working. The only other one known in existence is in the NC State library. www.thecolorwall.org/ (http://thecolorwall.org/%5DThe - broken link) The NC State mural had fallen out of repair for several years. After a year of fundraising they were able to put it back to it's former glory.

Our mural is 8 ft high and 32 ft long. It is a lighting mural consisting of a giant aluminum box with vanes of different sizes and angles. Behind it is a white wall.

If front of it is a set of 30 lights of mainly blue, green, yellow and red that shine down on theses vanes.

Due to the different angles and sizes of the vanes the lights mix on the wall behind it giving it a kaleidoscope of different colors. The mural was said to still be functioning in 1995. But from what I can tell by the shape it was in it couldn't have been working much longer than that. Nothing worked. The good news was the wall vanes and lights were still there, though they had covered up about half of the mural with cubicles. I ended up finding the switches that controlled the mural over near the tellers area. Pressing buttons proved fruitless. It was dead. I feared it would take an electrician and a whole wad of cash to get it back running again. I know this was not something we wanted to do. At that point I figured I might never see it come back to life.

Fast forward to today. I had to come back to do another walk through of the building. It looks so much better with the mess the county made cleaned up. It's still kind of sad seeing it so empty. I can remember going there as a little boy with my grandfather to go visit Uncle Hector every summer. I can remember going and eating lunch with them on the 4th floor. As I walked through the basement I noticed a metal box on the ground we had been puzzled by last week when we were there.

No one from the bank knew what it was other than it was old and was something that was installed in the bank. Well today I figured out what it was, or at least Gary our building manager did. He noticed that one of the plugs on this box matched a plug in the janitors room on the 1st floor. So after I had done the initial walk through and Gary had left I locked the front door and went to work. I took the box from down in the basement and brought it upstairs. I plugged it in and went and pushed the buttons over at the tellers office only to be disappointed. I then noticed the box wasn't getting any power and realized I needed to bypass a switch that wasn't working. I finally could hear the transformer humm. Went and pushed the buttons and got nothing. At this point I thought I was at a dead end until I remembered seeing another cable down in the basement. I went and retrieved it. It plugged into the box as well and after 15min of studying the box I had it figured out. I jumped some of the wires to see if I was right and I could hear the relays clicking and from a distance I could see light from around the corner of the lobby. 15 minutes later I had it completely wired back up. I buttoned everything back up and cut everything back on.

Walked back to the tellers area and pushed 1 button at a time. I had light! but not a lot. Of the 30 lights only 4 or so worked. So I made a trip to Lowes during dinner. 30 new flood light bulbs and I was back installing them high in the ceiling. After about an hour I had finished the job. I turned off the lobby lights went and turned the system back on and went back over to the tellers area and pushed the #1 button.

Once again Joe Cox's Color Wall was back from the dead. It went from shades of blue to green to red all with the push of a button. I'm sure Joe is up in heaven smiling right now. I know I was. I took video of the different colors each button did. I'll try to get that uploaded this weekend when I have some spare time. I didn't run the system for very long. Maybe 5 min tops before I shut it down to cool off and to check for any issues. I did find some. A connector in the control box had some evidence of some heat. This is most likely the reason why it was taken out of commission. Connectors back 40 years ago were just not meant to handle 30 90 watt bulbs all on one wire. That being said I don't think Joe really thought that control box would last as long as it did. If we want this mural to be a good reliable system we will need to put in a new connector (maybe 40 dollars). Also the system relays on relays. 30 of them in fact. There were a few that are bad. They are plug and play type so it wouldn't take but maybe 5 min to replace them. I think the biggest improvement to the system would be different bulbs. The shear number of high wattage bulbs are what tax the system. Back then that was all they had though. Today we have LED bulbs that put out just as much light but at a fraction of the wattage. Running 30 LED lights would be about the same as running 5 regular bulbs. Plus they would last longer. Only problem with LED lights is that they are expensive. They run around 40 dollars a light. Though adding these would solve any electrical issue the system might have. Considering the building is empty I don't see the need to do anything right now. If someone wants to see the lights on in person it might be best if I or an electrician are present. It's not something I would feel comfortable just letting anyone plug it back in. For the time being it will stay unplugged.

I hope you enjoyed the story as much as I had working on it. I love troubleshooting."
All this being said we don't think the Color Wall deserves to be in the lobby of an old building. Nobody can see it and we want it somewhere it will be appreciated and that is where you come in. We are looking into several options on what to actually do with it. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Below are some slides Joe Cox took of the wall when after he had completed it and a picture of the building it sits in. As you can see it has more than just one color. It has 10 buttons that you can choose different patterns. But it can be programmed to just about any color combination.

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Old 02-23-2011, 05:06 PM
2,647 posts, read 6,083,157 times
Reputation: 3408
Wow, that's really cool. Thanks for posting!
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:31 PM
564 posts, read 1,339,868 times
Reputation: 268
very interesting, thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:59 PM
Location: Southeastern Cumberland County
983 posts, read 3,521,677 times
Reputation: 805
What about seeing if the State Museum of Art is interested?? Then it would belong to all North Carolinians to see and appreciate.
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Old 02-28-2011, 06:13 AM
Location: MAuldin, SC
31 posts, read 60,801 times
Reputation: 60
Originally Posted by LRoyal10900 View Post
What about seeing if the State Museum of Art is interested?? Then it would belong to all North Carolinians to see and appreciate.

We thought the state museum might be a little close to the one at NC State library.

So far I've contacted UNC, UNCP, Asheville Museum, and a few others with little to no response.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:35 PM
2 posts, read 4,199 times
Reputation: 10
Default Great Story

You have done an amazing job and I'm jealous of all the fun you had making it all work again. As a professional lighting designer, I am hoping that you find a way to preserve the light art installation as it, or maybe find a way to donate it to a building owner, or city, or group that will salvage it and move it to a new home.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:38 PM
2 posts, read 4,199 times
Reputation: 10
I've contacted Joe Cox's niece about it since she was involved in the restoration of the color wall in Raleigh. Her name is Janice McAninch and she's a family friend.
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Old 03-09-2011, 02:42 PM
Location: NC
1,696 posts, read 3,991,207 times
Reputation: 1862
oh that is awesome!

to me, it looks like it should be on a wall of some overpriced dining establishment LOL

dont discount the MOA because of its proxemity to nc state... a lot of museums 'share' pieces, and they may display it themselves or send it to share in another museum in the state.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:49 PM
1,425 posts, read 3,652,767 times
Reputation: 2035
wow. just wow. I have never been inside the CCB building in Durham.... you just gave me a reason to go.

I remember being a kid, going to the city (Lumberton), if I had known something as beautiful as that was there, I would have wanted to go in that bank and get a sucker (lollipop).
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Old 03-13-2011, 01:41 PM
1 posts, read 2,045 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks to Paula, we are delighted to find that you have successfully gotten the Color Wall Mural back in operation yourself. Please contact us. It may be possible to advise you about some options.

Janice Cox McAninch

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