An unBULLievaBULL Bull City Gem has been un earthed in Comanche, Texas and no one is more surprised than the business owners themselves.
Husband and wife duo Clint and Jami Tunnell are working on their new office space in a restored building. Durhamites know all too well the hard but valuaBULL work in giving new life to a historic building. Power washing the aged plaster revealed that THE W.T. Blackwell put the mark of the Bull City in Texas.
Durham loves to love Durham and now the Tunnells have found themselves awash in Bull City Love after this incrediBULL mural was shared on @TheBullsOfDurham social media and then Discover Durham’s. I’m working with Clint to see if we can peg down the year it was created and get the mural a historic designation.
As for the story of discovering the mural, well Clint tells it best. It's unBULLievaBULLy so very Durham.
“We purchased our building on the north side of the square in Comanche in early 2019. Our intent is to bring back the history and original beauty this building has to offer. As with all historic renovation projects, there are setbacks and unforeseen schedule changes due to the "unknowns" one always finds.
“Around the end of October, we started prepping the inside walls of our building to paint. The east wall was stucco, as seen in the first picture. (See slideshow below).
“Our building was built sometime around the mid-1870s. Layer after layer of "new and improved" renovations had been done over the past 145 years; covering up the prettiest parts of the building.
“The stucco had been added to the wall sometime in the late 1920s to early 1930s and then had been covered up since the late 1950s with studded sheetrock walls. You can imagine the dust and dirt on it. I had already crawled up into the space between the ceiling and the roof to identify a leak and discovered that behind the stucco was some old red brick. So it didn't take long to decide to chip off some of the stucco and expose the brick in the lobby and office portions of the building. But little did we know!
“When we were prepping the outside of the building for paint, I had the man running the powerwasher go ahead and wash the stucco wall. When he did, he knocked off a loose piece of stucco at the very top of the wall; which was black underneath it and not red brick. I stepped back and looked at it and said: "Wouldn't it be neat if there was something painted on the brick under the stucco?" Well, I don't by lottery tickets because if it weren't for bad luck I wouldn't have any luck at all so the hope of something being painted on that wall left about as quick as I said it.
“After we finished washing the wall, I started chipping away at the bottom of the stucco down at the floor. And what did I find; red brick. Of course! However, after about the 4th swing of the hammer and chisel...it was still red; but red paint this time.
“I followed the red paint up about 3 feet but had no clue what I was looking at. So I chipped a little more to the left. Still no clue. So I chipped a little more to the right and found another color. White. What? So I chipped til I ran out of white paint and low and behold...I had a T.
“The red paint still made me curious so I stepped back to get a view of all of it and then it hit me. "That's the tail end of a cow!" To which made no sense at all so that only left one option. We had to see what WAS painted on that wall.
“Being somewhat smarter than I look, I figured that if it truly were a cow that would only lead to more questions than answers so I decided to chip away in the direction of the T to see if we could uncover a word. Each letter uncovered brought a thousand guesses until it became evident we were dealing with TOBACCO. Most old buildings had tobacco on the floor; we now had it on the wall!
“So putting two and two together we googled tobacco brands and up popped BULL DURHAM. Duh! But really, did we seriously have an advertisement for Bull Durham Tobacco in Comanche, Texas let alone in our building?
“It took 2 1/2 days to slowly chip away the stucco covering this once in a lifetime find. Each swing of the hammer and small piece of stucco that fell was like opening a present on Christmas morning. You didn't know what you were going to get!
“The mural is in pristine condition considering its age. After a brief amount of research, it was determined that this mural was most likely painted between 1890 and 1900. It is 18' tall and 18' wide.
“Bull Durham Tobacco was world-famous loose-leaf tobacco manufactured by W.T. Blackwell in Durham, North Carolina from 1850 until 1988.
“Blackwell heavily advertised his brand of tobacco all across the country with the trademark bull. He commissioned artists in 1869 to begin painting these large murals across the country. The success of Bull Durham Tobacco was due to Blackwell’s advertising tactics that made it world-famous and made Durham, North Carolina the Tobacco Capital of the World.
“Blackwells company was one of the first to use a large scale advertising campaign across the country. Before his Bull Durham advertising, large marketing campaigns were unheard of and considered risky; to which W.T. Blackwell proved them wrong.
“Legend has it that at the time this mural was painted there wasn't a building where our's is now but was more of a walkthrough area. Later, it is told by historians that when a building was built it was home to the Jack Wright Saloon where outlaw legend John Wesley Hardin shot and killed then Brown County deputy Charles Webb in 1874.
“All of us are proud to have found, uncovered and will be able to preserve this awesome piece of history and artwork for years to come. Our plan is to remove the loose dust from the wall once construction is complete and seal the mural as is.
“We look forward to getting the building completed this next month and moved into our new offices. Stop in and see us at 109 West Grand on the north side of the square in Comanche...or to see the mural! :)
“Clint & Jami Tunnell”
Hmm… if I read that last paragraph correctly, Clint is inviting us to take a party plane from RDU to Texas to come see the mural and meet the city’s new BULLoved Tunnells. I hope they’re ready for all the Bull City Love. We come on a bit strong. It’s a Durham thing.
The story of these wall dog paintings is told in depth in “The Bulls of Durham” living history book. Buy your copy today and see what history you unearth.
The Bulls of Durham
"The Bulls of Durham" living history book. Launched on April 10th, 2019, Durham's 150th Anniversary.
"The Bulls of Durham" living history book blends Durham's rich history with stories and perspectives of our city's greats that are continuing to build upon that history. And in this way, this is the story of Durham, North Carolina through the bulls' eyes.
Learn how a city that literally started from a tobacco seed in the ashes of the Civil War grew into the best city on earth. Discover how a stolen bull brought about a history shifting, global tobacco empire; and how 150 years later that relates to a British mustard company having beef with Sheila. #NotSorry
Find out the backstory to how the now hippest, foodiest, tech-hub of the South also gave rise to the bullpen, billboards, branding and baseball cards. Delve into our city's strong Black history that proves "Do It Like Durham" isn't a passing trend and will give you a profound sense of reverence walking down Parrish Street.
Best of all, see the common thread that runs through the stories of teachers, politicians, business owners, hip-hop artists, painters, activists, historians, architects and the real Bull City OG's. Hint: it's the BULLief that in Durham anything is possiBULL.
Welcome to Durham the incrediBULL place where grit meets grace. Here all you have to have is a dream and faith the size of a tobacco seed, because well, tobacco seeds build global empires, not mustard seeds.
Project book launch date: April 10, 2019 - Durham's 150th Anniversary.
Cover Art by DeCario Allen.
Bull Love Mug
11 ounce coffee mug featuring "Someone in Durham Loves Me" design complete with a love bull. Makes for an incrediBULL gift to someone you love, including yourself.
*For bulk orders of 12+ email Sheila at TheBullsOfDurham@gmail.com for bulk rate discount pricing.
Get your incrediBULL Durham business in front of 1000s of Bull City enthusiasts and be a Bulls of Durham Supporter at the same time.
Have your business featured on The Bulls of Durham Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Share up to 10 photos of your incrediBULL crew, business or self in action. We'll work with you to create a caption that shares who you are, why you're awesome, what problem you solve for your customer, why you love Durham and which bull in the Bull City is your favorite. Because Durham.
Terms and conditions apply. We reserve the right to decline service to companies/organizations/individuals not in line with our brand.