Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Raleigh, Then and Now: Nehi Bottling Company

nehithenandnow

Bottom photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives.

This week we revisit Nehi Bottling Company. A great deal has changed in the short time since our last Then and Now post  featuring this building, so we decided to give it another go. Since then, the building was purchased by James A. Goodnight who is becoming known for his extensive and detailed building restorations in Raleigh.

The Nehi Building is a Raleigh Historic Landmark, and for good reason. Built in 1937, it was designed by acclaimed Raleigh architect William Henley Deitrick, and is an early-and rare-example of International Style. This style of modernist architecture suggests volume rather than mass, and function rather than form. Its lines, scant ornamentation and general aesthetic suggest strength, industry and production. Several ideas that remain very beautiful to Americans.

Over the past year the exterior of the building has received quite a makeover.  Local artists Luke Miller Buchanan and Ollie Wagner painstakingly recreated the original red and yellow sign on the western wall. Perched upon scaffolding during an especially cold winter, the two artists slowly and skillfully brought back a sight most hadn’t even a memory of.

Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives.

Photo courtesy North Carolina State Archives.

While the giant hand-painted sign is the most noticeable, other details such as replacing the broken black glass tiles flanking the main entrance and re-pointing every mortar joint were equally important.

Sourcing replacement black glass tiles proved to be a daunting task for James. Since the tiles hadn’t been manufactured since the 1930’s, it wasn’t as easy as driving down to the local builder’s supply store. Luckily, a man in St. Louis who specializes in vintage materials had a close match and drove all the way to Raleigh to personally install the tiles.

The awning has been rebuilt and the aluminum letters on the front of the building have been replaced. Thanks to James’ keen eye for detail, his army of carefully chosen contractors, and his healthy respect for Raleigh’s past, the building looks now almost exactly as it did more than 70 years ago.

“Now, drink your Nehi and eat your Coney Island!”


Discuss Raleigh

  • Recent Comments:

    • Martha: I used to pass this house on the way home from work. I stopped once as there was a lady in the...
    • Sophie Z: It is now occupied by Poole’s Diner. There is a mural on the side of the building in rainbow lettering that...
    • Carol Freeman Clemons: I attended St Monica’s from 1950 to 1958. A couple of years ago I returned to Raleigh and...
    • Morris Willis: I was a member of The Huckleberry Mudflap in the 60’s and purchased a Gibson SG Standard from...
    • Kylie Byrne: @Pam Powell, I believe my Granny lived in the orphanage from 1937 until approximately 1945 or 1946. Are...
    • Banjo John: We explored the tunnels in the late 70s. You could enter by the door in the Free Expression Tunnel and...
    • Mitch Hazouri: I don’t recall making the claim that Mitch’s is the oldest bar in Raleigh. I’ll...
    • BJM: I worked as a Red Cross volunteer in the house next door..which was the Red Cross Chapter house. I never saw the...


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