Historic Washington Bandstand Featured In New Mural On Square
A new Walldogs mural going up along the square in Washington pays homage to the city's historic bandstand.
Washington Historical Society executive director Melissa Heil believes the bandstand serves as a fitting subject after COVID-19 limited public gatherings – and with the city’s bicentennial coming up in 2025.
“The bandstand in itself wasn’t an architectural marvel, right? We're not celebrating the bandstand because it was a great building, we're celebrating the bandstand because of what it did for Washington,” said Heil. “It brought people together, it was a way to really celebrate community. I think we all realize, now more than ever, how important that is.”
Located on the east side of South Main Street, the mural is the second Walldogs piece on the square, following last summer’s painting of city founder William Holland on the Brunks building.
“It's a great spot,” said Heil. “I think it's even more visible than the site that we had last year in the sense that you're really going to see it as you're coming through town, you're going to see it anytime you visit the square.”
Artist Anat Ronen, who also worked on last summer’s mural, started painting the band shell mural on Sunday and hopes to have it completed in about a week. She said her vision for the piece incorporates recreations of images of the band stand's three generations presented in a photo album and accompanied by tulips and other items.
“When I design a mural, especially if it's historical, I want to tell a story in a way that a lot of people will read will relate to it in more than one way, because some of us are more into history and some of us are less,” said Ronen. “It's important for me to make sure that everybody's enjoying what they're seeing.”
Part of Ronen’s process for this mural is projecting images of the historic photos onto the wall so she can sketch the outlines before beginning to paint.
“I generally I don't work that way, but here because the imagery is very detailed and because it's mostly photos from the past … I'm limited by time, so this would be the fastest way to make sure it goes up on a wall in a way I want it,” she said.
Heil said the original bandstand was constructed on the square in 1885 and stood for 15 years before it was replaced by a larger one that remained until 1926. The last and largest of the bandstands was torn down in 1959.
“At that point, the concerts were getting kind of too big and too popular, and there wasn't enough parking on the square,” said Heil. “So most of the concerts were being held off site anyway to accommodate all the people who were coming. So it wasn't being not used because it wasn't popular; it wasn't being used because it was too popular.”
Heil said the donor-funded mural costs between $12,000 and $15,000 all told, for the work and the supplies. She said they are hoping to add another mural each summer leading up to the bicentennial celebration.
“Of course, it depends on financing and it depends on, obviously, the artists’ availability, and being able to find a wall and a property owner who's willing to let us paint their wall,” she said. “But ideally, that would be great if we could do three more.”