Murals to be featured throughout downtown Franklin
Published 11:52 am Saturday, June 11, 2016
Ever wondered what downtown Franklin looked like in 1902? Well, a glimpse of that image can be caught on side of the Coldwell Banker Professional Realtor building on the corner of Second and Main Street.
The Downtown Franklin Association, in partnership with Coldwell Banker, hired famous mural artist Horace “Happy” Mann to paint what downtown looked like in the year 1902, somewhat based off an image they had given him.
“Basically a committee of people gave me a photograph to go off of,” Mann said. “Then I just imaged what old-time America was like. What the turn of the century looked like. The automobiles and horses, people, clothing, all of it.”
Mann added that the people he has come in contact while working on the mural have helped him imagine what the people of Franklin were like back then.
“I’m just kind of making it up as we go along. I’ve learned some things about Franklin,” he said.
Although Mann spends much of his time in big cities and painting murals there, he has enjoyed his time in Franklin and is looking forward to the rest of time he has here while finishing his project.
“I’ve met some characters since I’ve been here,” he continued. “I’ve spent most of my time in big cities and its always fast-paced. Here, it’s slow moving, and I see the same people every day. I like small towns.”
Mann has been working on the mural since May 25, and the weather has slowed it down a bit, but he thinks he will have it done by Monday.
As stated before, Mann spends a lot of time traveling for work, but his home is in Page County. He is 75 years old and has been getting paid to paint for somewhere around 60 years.
“That’s about all I’ve done my whole life,” Mann said.
He noted that he feels really blessed because he has eight children, three who have followed in his footsteps and became artists, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When asked why he loves art, Mann said, “Well, my favorite answer is that art is a wonderful way to slowly starve to death. But, there’s nothing better. It’s a very organic process.”
This particular mural is just one of many that the DFA has planned.
“Basically our design committee has come up with the project for murals in downtown,” executive director Dan Howe said. “The name of the project is ‘Paint Us Happy: Murals in Downtown Franklin.”
Mann is the first of many artists that DFA hopes to hire to paint murals. They already have other property owners who are interesting in partnering with them to have the sides of their buildings painted on.
“Our hope is to get other members of the community to be excited about the murals as well,” Howe added.
The DFA has also applied for grants to help with the project and Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Inc. is helping to try and get the Virginia is for Lover’s Campaign to sponsor a mural.
“We just have so many people willing to help and we are all really excited about it,” he continued. “We’re trying to do a combination of murals that depict Franklin. The past, the present and hopefully the future.
“Our hope is that this project really takes off and becomes something that draws people to the area and helps make Franklin a destination place,” Howe added.