Underpass undergoes transformation in Greencastle

July 29, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Mary Fedorka blocks out the traffic and train noise under the railroad overpass where she is painting two large murals by turning up the headphones on her portable CD player.

"What I play depends on my mood and where I am in the project at the time," said Fedorka, 39, of Hagers- town.

The huge sweep of sky above the early-20th-century train station she's painting requires classical selections such as Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," Fedorka said. Bach gets her in the mood to paint the upright concrete supports holding up the underpass into Gothic columns.


Jazz sets the tone for painting grass, trees and shrubs, she said.

Pop music helps in painting the station and the steam engine pulling into it.

Fedorka was commissioned by the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce to paint the large bare walls on the north and south sides under the railroad overpass that crosses East Baltimore Street on the west edge of town.

Each wall covers an area 15 feet high by 76 feet long, more or less, said Fedorka's father, Tom DuBois, who is helping with the project.

An anonymous donor put up the $4,500 that Fedorka gets to paint the murals. Other donations will pay for lights to illuminate the murals when they're finished and for cleaning and repair, said Dana Given, executive director of the Chamber.

Fedorka has to finish the south-side mural by this weekend's start of Greencastle's triennial Old Home Week celebration. It gets under way Saturday for the 35th time since 1902.

She was supposed to begin painting at the end of April, but wet weather delayed her until the second week in June.

She began by enlisting the aid of Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 to hose down the wall so it would be clean enough to hold the white primer that serves as the undercoat for the mural.

"It saved me a week's worth of work," Fedorka said.

She's using regular outdoor house paint. When it's finished, she'll paint over it with a clear sealer that won't yellow and that also will make it easy to clean off graffiti, she said.

One persistent problem is water from the underside of the overpass that runs down during heavy rains, leaving sooty streaks on the mural.

Given said DuBois has sealed off some of the runoff, but there is more work to be done.

"It's being corrected," she said.

Given said the idea to paint the murals came from residents Tom and Mary Connolley. Fedorka's artistic talents and abilities were known to Chamber officials when she owned Shopkeeper's Gallery, an art shop in Greencastle. It closed two years ago.

Fedorka has a degree in interior design and graphic arts from the International Fine Arts College in Miami.

A committee met with Fedorka to come up with design ideas for the murals.

It was decided to reproduce Greencastle's train station as it was in 1908, the year it opened.

"I'm trying to make each person in the mural representative of an era in time in the 20th century," she said.

The north wall will show a steam engine as it arrives at the station.

Given said Fedorka consulted with a train historian to help her accurately replicate a steam engine of the time.

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