Two blocks east of the huge new public mural in downtown Moline, another new mural is worth checking out, that pays homage to the building’s history.
Rouse Consulting Group (an IT solutions company), headquartered at 422 16th St., contracted with veteran QC artists Heidi Sallows and Sarah Robb (of Mural Soup) to paint a second-story mural on the north-facing brick wall. The four rectangular logos are of Rouse (which serves clients nationwide), Moline Centre and two former businesses in the 1910 building – Roderick Café and Wrigley’s.
The 26-year-old company will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. to unveil the new mural.
The company called the new art “a masterpiece” and said: “This mural is not only a vibrant representation of our community spirit and a canvas for community engagement, but it also pays homage to their commitment to restoring historical murals. It showcases their dedication to sustainability and marks the start of more community focused projects and a renewed passion for preserving our artistic heritage.”
The concept originated from Geoff Manis, Rouse’s virtual chief information officer and former Moline Centre manager. He said Thursday that the old Roderick and Wrigley ghost signs were about the only such signs in downtown Moline to remain on their old building.
“In downtown improvement districts, restoration of ghost signs has become very popular,” he said. Manis (who’s been with Rouse 18 months) had the idea when he was with Moline Centre and noticed the old faded signs one day while he was at Bass Street Landing a block away.
The exterior billboards (or ghost signs) were really faded, and the artists did homework to restore them to what they were originally like, company president Paul Rouse said. Moline Centre and the company logos were added at the same time.
“Ghost signs are always hip and fun to restore,” Manis said, noting these are the first such ones in the Quad Cities. “The goal is, hopefully 100 years from now, people may not know what Rouse Consulting Group is, but 100 years from now, someone will restore the signs you see today.”
“In the 113 years or so the building’s been in existence, Rouse Consulting Group is the longest-tenured occupant of the building,” Paul Rouse said.
“I think it adds to the historical integrity of Moline – it’s important to note Rouse Consulting Group is as deeply rooted as a business partner of downtown, as you can find in downtown Moline,” Manis said.
“It was the two artists that were doing things like that down here,” Paul Rouse said of other downtown murals. The new paintings were done over six weeks (starting in September), as Sallows and Robb juggled other mural projects in the area.
They created the Moline Centre logo in an Art Deco vibe, and includes a small current Moline Centre logo at top.
The 422 16th St. building dates from 1910, and in 1913 housed the Majestic Theater, then in 1914 the Roderick Café for five years. Rouse has a framed photo of the interior of Roderick Café on its first floor.
The building was a home to several cafes, and then Illinois Optical Company from 1940 to 1999, when Rouse moved in and renovated it for offices. Rouse’s father went to the optometrist in the building in the ‘50s, and he still has some old optical chairs in the basement.
The IT company will also renovate that level for an employee lounge area with a mini gym, lounge space, and wet bar, said Mollie Owens, company engagement manager.
“Since we utilize a significant portion of the building for equipment, we wanted to establish a designated area where our team members can unwind and take a break from their workstations,” she said, noting the offices already include a dart board and pool table, as well as a second-floor outdoor patio near the new mural (where they have social functions).
Rouse also uses the 418 16th St. building next door (which dates from 1924 and has been a dry cleaner and attorney’s office), joined together. Today, they have about 40 employees, serving customers in 30 states and two foreign countries, said co-owner Jamie Crawford. 422 16th St. was renovated in 2006.
Rouse is so much into renovation work that Paul personally built his own penny desk (with 12,000 pennies under clear epoxy resin) for his office. It took three months in 2019, with a Celtic cross in the middle, and the oldest penny is an Indian head from 1902.
Rouse will also be taking holiday donations for their Toys for Tots donation drop the day of the QC Chamber ribbon-cutting, Nov. 10, before the downtown Holiday Hop, in the back parking lot. Feel free to bring a new unwrapped toy and bring a smile to a child this holiday season. You can get complimentary hot chocolate while there.
The new mural was supported with funding from Moline Centre’s budget, Manis added.
The recent other large downtown mural is on the west-facing wall of Analog Pizza & Arcade, 1405 5th Ave., done by two Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artists, a project of the Moline Public Art Commission. A ribbon-cutting for that was held Oct. 25, 2023.