About a week ago, a mural painted by high school students on the side of Philz Coffee on 24th Street received an awkward addition: a hulking, ramshackle wooden structure meant to shelter trash cans, which obscures the mural.   

Neighbors are scratching their heads. So is the Precita Eyes muralist who led the students.

“When it showed up, we didn’t know what it was,” said Ann Hess, who lives near the corner.

The structure, about five feet tall and perhaps seven feet wide, covers a significant portion of the mural, including the high school-age artists’ names.

“Tourists used to come look at that in groups,” Hess said. “It’s one of the highlights.”

The structure has already been defaced by graffiti, and Hess has noticed homeless people sleeping within it and otherwise using it for shelter.

Max Marttila, who co-directed the project for Precita Eyes, said that a Philz representative alerted him before the structure went up. “We’re trying to figure out how we can restore it in an appropriate manner,” he said.

One idea floated by Philz would be to repaint a portion of the mural onto the structure itself or otherwise paint the structure so that it blends into the artwork.

The structure is required to house garbage cans, according to Jolie Meschi, a Philz marketing communications manager. “Until now, the cans were in the store to prevent them from getting stolen or tipped over,” she said.

“The mural is important to us and we are in [the] process of getting the artist to paint over the new structure to complete the mural,” she added.  

This unsought — and unwanted — commission could pose a challenge, however. Marttila said creating a trompe l’oeil trash shelter would be tricky.  

Hess, the mural’s neighbor, said she felt for the student artists who created it. “Now they have to see this monstrosity blocking their artwork.”