In 1980, Akron sculptor Don Drumm spent two months designing 15 murals to grace the lobby and elevator entrance of the silo hotel rooms at the Quaker Square Hilton. Nearly 30 years later, the murals remain intact.
The smallest of the murals is a nonobjective design, measuring 6 feet by 14 feet, that moves across the canopy over the registration desk. The largest, the sunburst murals, measure 14 feet wide by 3 stories high and tower over the lobby entrance, featuring grinning suns with long noses and imaginative faces.
Drumm’s designs blend the old and new Akron, and the majority of the murals are encompassed in three silos. In the first silo, called the Gear Room, Drumm utilized original manufacturing gears once used by the Quaker Oats Cereal Company. In another silo, fanciful machinery represent the city’s history and the building itself. The locomotive in this room represents the early history of the complex, while the refueling blimp is a well-known symbol of Akron’s history. The third silo, known as the Museum Room, shows Peeping Tom sneaking a peak at the 12-feet-tall Lady Godiva.
Each mural was done by a process Drumm invented called “scrafitto,” which involves applying two layers of tinted cement on the silo walls. The first, a dark brown layer, was covered with a layer of pale cement. While the cement was wet, Drumm mounted scaffolding and carved his signature faces and designs by scraping and gouging.
The tactile murals were originally designed to greet visitors as they entered the hotel’s lobby. Today, University of Akron students appreciate the artwork after the university’s board of trustees approved the acquisition of the hotel and 9-acre Quaker Square Though the revolutionary concrete silo hotel rooms have become student housing, the murals remain.