PLYMOUTH - Members of the Plymouth Beautification Committee, local art teachers and students began working on a mural on the side of Lee’s Hardware Monday, showing famous people, places and events from the town’s history.
Volunteer painters will be at work throughout this and next week, creating the mural on the side of the building at 171 Main St. They include Gina Ritche, an art teacher at Terryville High School, Diane Boylan, an art teacher from Plymouth Center School, and students who had been part of their classes.
The mural is intended to make people aware of Plymouth’s upcoming 225th anniversary in 2020. Supplies for the project were provided by funding from the Thomaston Savings Bank Foundation.
Jerry Milne, of the Plymouth Historical Society, took the teachers leading the project on a tour of local history to educate them about different elements that can be included in the mural.
“The mural will feature local inventor and clockmaker Eli Terry with gears emanating from his head to represent his ideas for mass production,” said Milne. “It will also include Dorence Atwater, a soldier from Plymouth who fought during the Union army during the Civil War. He was captured and taken to a Confederate Prisoner of War camp in Andersonville Georgia, where 13,000 soldiers died due to the conditions there. He went out of his way to make a list of the men who died and then teamed up with the social worker Clara Barton to contact the family members after the war. This was the first time that an effort had been made to find those missing in action and report it to their loved ones. He also helped to establish the national cemetery in Andersonville.”
The mural will also feature Silas Brooks, a famous air balloonist from the mid-1800s from Plymouth.
“He was featured in the P.T. Barnum Circus since hot air balloons were a big spectacle back then,” said Milne. “He created hydrogen gas with sulfuric acid and iron fillings plus ice. He had almost 200 liftoffs around the country.”
Brooks’ balloon basket is currently on display at the New England Air Museum.
The mural will include the North Star and the Big Dipper constellation. Milne said that these stars were used by escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad. A home in Plymouth, he said, was an important stop along the railroad.
Also featured will be the Ives Trains model trains, which were popular in Plymouth in the late 1800s before the company was eventually bought out by Lionel. Their slogan was “Ives Toys Makes Happy Boys.”
“The mural will show the train entering the Terryville tunnel, which, at a mile long, is the longest tunnel in Connecticut,” said Milne.
Other iconic things from Plymouth portrayed in the mural will be horses and wagons using the old toll road on Main Street and the Lock Museum of America.
Boylan noted as she and the other volunteers worked on the mural Monday that everything would be tied together visually with water. Ritche explained that there are many waterfalls in town, which is yet another thing the town is known for.
“There will be a blueprint of the mural in the hardware store when it is complete explaining everything,” said Ritche. “We hope that people will see this and decide to check out some of our historic sites.”
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.