Charlie Chaplin gets a face-lift
July 13, 2004
Charlie Chaplin’s blush received a touch up this week. The silent film star’s weathered face will once again grace the side of Commercial Row’s Capitol Building thanks to Rob McCarthy of McCarthy Signs. He painted the original Chaplin mural on the landmark Truckee building in the late 1980s.
Recently, the owner of the building, Andrea Stare, commissioned McCarthy to restore his original work.”I thought it was great that the owner wanted to restore Charlie up there,” McCarthy said Monday, taking a break from removing the scaffolding on the side of the building.The mural graces the exterior wall of the Capitol, one of the oldest buildings on Commercial Row. It is said that Chaplin performed on the Capitol’s stage while in town to film one of his movies.
The structure was once the town’s central meeting place and location of the community’s social events, according to the Truckee Donner Historical Society. It has been in use since 1870, and it is now home of The Pharmacy, a retail store.Prior to the restoration the mural was heavily worn from weather damage. There was some patchwork needed on the stucco, and roughly half of Chaplin’s face, which at 5 feet tall looks over downtown, was missing.Richard Lusser helped McCarthy restore the mural. At 17, he was just a toddler when McCarthy first painted the sign.
“It’s definitely an experience,” Lusser said of the restoration project. “I don’t want to mess it up – you know, getting the whole thing back to the way it was.”Now that the 14-foot-tall, 21-foot-wide mural has been restored to its original grandeur, McCarthy reflects on the project as a success.”It’s been fine. It’s been great,” he said, standing on the black roofing atop a neighboring building, “except it’s a boiler up here.”