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The Flagstaff Furniture Barn / Natural Grocers Big Cow Mural

Updated on October 17, 2014
I took this photo while stopped at the traffic light at the Butler/Route 66 intersection
I took this photo while stopped at the traffic light at the Butler/Route 66 intersection | Source

The Building and the Cow, Then and Now

The 35-foot Holstein cow painted by muralist Melanie Thomson-Myers on the side of what is now the Natural Grocers building at 503 S. Milton Rd. in Flagstaff (which is also Old Route 66 along the stretch where this cow mural is located) is an unofficial local landmark.

Still often referred to as "The Furniture Barn Cow" because the building was home to that business for 24 years, the mural was Thompson-Myers' first commissioned work. The mural once wrapped around the left side of the building where it became a closer-to-life-sized farm scene. Now all that remains is the one huge cow.

The building, originally constructed as an armory, is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The armory was designed by Grim & Solberg, built in 1920.

The Furniture Barn "B.C." (Before Cow) - I found this photo, taken in November, 1992, before the cow mural was painted....

The Flagstaff Furniture Barn "before cow"
The Flagstaff Furniture Barn "before cow" | Source

Before The Furniture Barn moved into the building in the the late 1980s, this concrete "barn" housed a sewing business that made underwear for JC Penny.

The Furniture Barn Cow - Always helpful when giving out-of-towners driving directions

Furniture Barn Cow Mural
Furniture Barn Cow Mural

"Turn right onto Butler Avenue at the big cow mural." That's what I would often say when telling people who'd be coming into Flagstaff from the I-17 freeway how to get somewhere in town. Or "turn right onto Milton at the big cow mural" or "you'll pass the big cow painting on your left." It's kind of hard to miss.

I've also had friends call from their cars and say, "I just passed a big cow mural on the right. Now what?"

But then the Furniture Barn business announced they'd be moving...

Read Furniture Barn on the 'Mooove' to Fourth Street from April 2012 in the Arizona Daily Sun.

The Natural Grocers Cow - The building changed hands and businesses in 2012, receiving a makeover inside and out ... but the big cow stayed where it was.

Natural Grocers cow mural, Flagstaff
Natural Grocers cow mural, Flagstaff

When Flagstaff residents found out that the Furniture Barn would be moving and a new business moving in to the old armory, many of us worried--some on Facebook and Twitter and in coffeeshops around town--what fate would befall the big cow mural. The vast majority of us were very relieved when we found out the cow would stay.

Visit the Natural Grocers website

Other Work by Muralist Melanie Thomson-Myers

Melanie Thomson-Myers now lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, where her murals can be seen in private residences and public buildings in the area. Here are two more of her paintings....

Flagstaff Then and Now

While the big cow mural has survived (so far), much has changed in Flagstaff....

Written by local historians, husband and wife Richard and Sherry Mangum, this wonderful coffee table book is full of interesting stories and facts about the early days of Flagstaff and how it has changed over the years.

Flagstaff: Past & Present
Flagstaff: Past & Present

This 96-page book, full of old photos side-by-side with photos of how things look today) and great narrative about Flagstaff's colorful history, would make a great gift for anyone who's lived in or enjoyed visiting this small city at 7,000 feet.


Another Popular Flagstaff Public Mural - "The Veridic Gardens of Effie Leroux," painted by Joe Sorren at Heritage Square in 2000.

Flagstaff public art mural
Flagstaff public art mural

See for close up photos and a lot of interesting facts about this Flagstaff mural.

Flagstaff public art
Flagstaff public art

See More of Flagstaff's Public Art

Murals, sculptures and more all over the city

Flagstaff, Arizona Public Art

My husband and I always enjoy a good art gallery, and we rarely miss a Flagstaff First Friday Art Walk, when local galleries and other businesses that display... Read more...

© 2012 Deb Kingsbury

Do You Have an Unofficial Local Landmark Like Our Flagstaff Cow?

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