Artistic tiles designed by children find new life in Virginia's 1st casino

Posted at 2:23 PM, Jul 24, 2022

BRISTOL, Va. — Children’s art tiles that once adorned the walls of the Bristol Mall have returned to public view with the recent opening of the Bristol Casino and are expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Andy Poarch, the spokesperson for Hard Rock and the Bristol Casino, explained that early into the construction phase of the Bristol Casino, the group recognized the significance of the tiles, which were painted by area children in the late 1990s, to the Bristol community at large and were careful to preserve the art.

“We recognized that there was a lot of history with the tiles and a lot of nostalgia surrounding the tiles as something that was and is a great point of pride with the citizens of Bristol. We heard countless stories of folks who spent their childhood coming to the mall and who saw the tiles and painted the tiles, and it was just a real point of local community pride,” Poarch said. “During the construction phase, we made significant efforts to ensure that they would be preserved and safeguarded. In fact, we even encased them in a protected wood structure during construction.”

According to Poarch, since its recent opening, the casino has received a lot of positive feedback from the community related to the tiles. He encourages residents of Bristol who painted a tile when they were kids to stop by and take a picture of themselves with their tile.

“As you can imagine, there have been a number of folks who come in or will come in who actually maybe painted one of the tiles. So, we’re encouraging folks. Please come in. Please take a picture of your tile, post it on social media,” Poarch said.

Among the current casino employees, Poarch has identified at least one who took part in the tile project as a kid.

“In addition to the history of the tiles, there’s a neat current connection to the project as well,” Poarch said.

The Bristol Casino
The Bristol Casino

Poarch pointed out that Virginia House Delegate Will Wampler, who was instrumental in passing the law that allowed the casino to be built in Bristol, Virginia, painted one of the tiles as a kid.

At the moment, in terms of providing context to the tiles for out-of-state visitors, there is no current plan to add a plaque with an explanation of what the tiles represent.

“We don’t have any plans to add a plaque or any kind of description of the tiles, but that’s something that we may take into consideration if it seems like it would be helpful in describing them and in kind of illustrating what their connection and history is to the folks who drew them,” Poarch said.



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