In the fall of 2017, the University of West Florida Historic Trust applied for and received funding from the National Park Service for the creation and installation of two maritime themed murals in downtown Pensacola. The goal of the project was to highlight the rich maritime history of Pensacola using large murals located in prominent locations.
Following preservation guidelines, which precludes painting a mural directly on historic buildings the Trust turned to Bobby Switzer, vice president of Lamar Outdoor Advertising, for help. Switzer, devised a plan of installing the murals through the use of outdoor vinyl, framing devices and lighting. The goal was to have the murals completed in time for the then upcoming Visit Pensacola Tall Ships Festival. As the ships sailed into the Port of Pensacola in April 2018, they were welcomed by these murals; one installed on the south side of the Museum of Commerce, featuring an historic image of the Tall Ships arrival in 1765 and another installed on the west side exterior wall of the Voices of Pensacola, highlighting the Port of Pensacola in 1903.
With the success of this project, Switzer then applied these same techniques to the Blount and Brent buildings that he and his brothers, Charlie and John were renovating. The brothers decided to follow this historical theme, Incorporating an outdoor mural on the exterior of their building, adding another vibrant element to the landscape of downtown.
With the overwhelmingly positive community response for all of the murals, UWF Historic Trust board chairman Collier Merrill formed a committee through the Historic Trust to create a formalized mural program. The committee’s objective would be to create a plan that supports the UWFHT mission by displaying historically significant photographic murals on select buildings and structures throughout downtown Pensacola. This committee of ten, known as Pensacola Outdoor Project (POP): Murals, is led by Historic Trust board member Scott Barrow with the support of the Historic Trust staff and the guidance of the Architectural Review Board.
The POP: Mural committee’s vision is to work with the community to create large, mounted photographs of significant historic scenes displayed on strategically located, prominent buildings and structures throughout downtown Pensacola enabling residents and tourists alike to learn about Pensacola’s history through these displays coupled with signage for each along with the creation of an educational, self-guided trail. POP:Murals will become the centerpieces of Pensacola’s unique and dynamic downtown, highlighting our history and providing a focal point for cultural heritage tourism.