A well-known “See Rock City” barn has received a fresh coat of paint to celebrate Rock City’s 90th anniversary year, just completed in Fort Payne, Al., by Rock City’s innovation team. This unique two-sided barn was originally painted over 60 years ago with separate nostalgic messages by Clark Byers, the legendary longtime painter of many Rock City barns nationwide.
Located just off Highway 176 near Little River Canyon, the historic barn greets motorists with “See Beautiful Rock City Today,” and heading westbound, “See Rock City World’s 8th Wonder.” A commemorative Rock City 90th anniversary logo now dons the front side of the barn.
“Since 1936 we’ve been inviting folks to come visit Rock City Gardens using the roofs of barns around the country,” said Doug Chapin, president and CEO of See Rock City Inc. “Today, it’s hard to keep these icons maintained, but it is a part of our legacy that we think gets to the cornerstones of our business: innovation, sustainability, art and people. From the beginning the barn paints have been an innovative idea, on a sustainable medium, highlighting incredible artistry, in the hands of generations of amazingly talented people. It is enriching to keep the tradition alive and have our own innovation team executing this paint today on a legacy barn.”
First painted in 1960, this roadside barn has since become a local landmark thanks largely to the longstanding care of owners Darren and Michelle Henderson. The couple welcomed Rock City as they did 11 years ago when Clark Byers’ son, Jim, along with Don Harris, repainted the barn to commemorate the Lookout Mountain attraction’s 80th anniversary.
“Rock City and our family’s See Rock City barn have been partners for over six decades,” said Darren Henderson, third-generation owner of the Fort Payne barn. “On behalf of my grandparents, Howard and Foy Henderson and the rest of our family, we congratulate Rock City on their 90th Anniversary and look forward to many more decades of reminding folks through our barn, to See Beautiful Rock City Today.”
Though many familiar sights have come and gone from the American landscape, Mr. Henderson notes that Rock City and its barns continue to inspire generations of visitors, reminding travelers that making new memories is just a drive away.
Rock City began its world-famous barn advertising campaign a decade before the origin of billboard advertising. At one time there were over 900 barns from the Southeast to the Midwest that read “See Rock City.” Due to the Highway Beautification Act in the 1960s which called for strict regulations on roadside signage, the number of barns painted has been greatly reduced. Over the years, Rock City has taken special interest in preserving its most beloved barns, many of which have become iconic pieces of Americana.