RALEIGH — In the 1940s, Raleigh residents arriving from the west knew they were home when they passed certain landmarks, like the State Fairgrounds, Meredith College and the big Royal Crown Cola sign on Hillsborough Street.
Now, decades after it was painted over, the Royal Crown sign is back, along with the name of the company that had it painted on the side of its building, the Raleigh Nehi Bottling Co.
The building, completed in 1938, became a city landmark in 2010, both for its early modern architecture and for the architect, William Henley Deitrick, who left several important buildings in and around Raleigh, including Broughton High School and Dorton Arena.
James A. Goodnight bought the old Nehi building last June and hopes to restore its original appearance and convert it into offices sometime this year. Goodnight plans to work with surviving elements of the old bottling company, including the drive-thru where trucks pulled into the front of the building to load up on soda.
The restoration began with the sign. Artists Luke Buchanan and Ollie Wagner started painting in mid-December and completed all but the touch-up work late last week.