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Main Street Martinsburg plans mural for downtown building

September 17, 2002|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Main Street Martinsburg's plan to decorate the side of a large downtown building with a mural depicting the earlier days of city life is taking shape, a member of the downtown promotional group said Monday.

Local architect Matthew Grove said members of the Main Street committee working on the project expect a favorable response to their application for a $15,000 Challenge America grant. Another $5,000 in local matching funds is being raised.

"This has been on the plate for a couple of years," Grove said.

First the idea had to win the approval of the Martinsburg Historic Review Commission, which approved the project in June.

The next step was finding a suitable building to display the mural. It had to have a large open surface and be clearly visible to passers-by.

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Grove said the mural committee looked at several buildings before settling on the one housing Stewart's Men's Wear at 124 S. Queen St.

An entrance to a city parking lot off Queen Street and an open landscaped area on the edge of a bank's property north of the parking lot entrance opens the empty brick wall of the Stewart building to the view of anyone heading south on South Queen Street.

Building owner Douglas Craigo gave the Main Street committee permission to paint the mural on the side of his building.

The mural will cover the side of the three-story building. It stretches back about 60 feet.

The committee designed the mural. It will feature a vaulted tunnel leading to the city's Public Square with a view of a bandstand that until World War II graced the four-way intersection.

The thinking around town is that the bandstand was dismantled for scrap metal during the war, Grove said. "There's talk about building a new grandstand sometime," he said.

The mural will show members of Comrey's Band, a local municipal band that broke up early in the 20th century, walking toward the vaulted tunnel on their way to the bandstand to play a concert.

Grove's drawing of the mural design also shows faux windows on the building's upper floors with people hanging out of them.

The committee is seeking old photographs of the band and its members so their likeness can be portrayed on the mural.

Bettina Messersmith teaches mural painting at James Rumsey Technical Institute in Hedgesville, W.Va. Messersmith and her students will paint the mural.

Grove is optimistic work on the mural can begin in June.

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