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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Blairstown Unites for Historic Mural Project

Volunteers generously donated their time to complete the mural. Photo By C. Tamulonis, 06/2024.
Volunteers generously donated their time to complete the mural. Photo By C. Tamulonis.

In a remarkable town effort, the Blairstown Enhancement Committee (BEC) launched an exciting mural project to celebrate the town’s rich history and unique character. Initiated by volunteers Cheryl Paulson and Patrick Law, the project brought together local artists, students and community members in a vibrant display of creativity and collaboration.

An inspired group effort

Liz Dwyer, a respected local artist and art teacher, was appointed lead artist for the mural. Dwyer worked closely with Blair Academy art teacher Gina Trish, North Warren art teacher Kelly LaVerde and their talented students. Since October 2023, the team met monthly to plan and develop the mural’s design.

Drawing inspiration from Blairstown’s history, as shared by the Historic Preservation Society, and other distinctive local features, students brainstormed and created initial sketches.

“I combined some of the most popular elements from the student’s sketches to design the final image that includes a blend of history, outdoor recreation, agriculture and wildlife,” said Dwyer. “We have the sun setting over the Delaware Water Gap, the viaduct, our foothills and the Paulinskill River.”

Liz Dwyer shows her original design incorporating elements from Blair Academy and North Warren Regional High School students. Photo By C. Tamulonis, 06/2024.
Liz Dwyer shows her original design incorporating elements from Blair Academy and North Warren Regional High School students. Photo By C. Tamulonis.

Incorporating history and nature

The mural also features a barn, a nod to the area’s agricultural roots, a hiking trail and native plants like echinacea (coneflowers) and black-eyed Susans.

“Chicory was chosen for being a favorite roadside flower, even though it is not native to the area,” said Dwyer.

“You’ll also see the Blairstown Fox, which many locals love and have stories about.”

The famous Blairstown Fox, known and loved by residents, is featured in the mural. Photo By C. Tamulonis, 06/2024.
The famous Blairstown Fox, known and loved by residents, is featured in the mural. Photo By C. Tamulonis.
Street view of Blairstown mural. Photo by Liz Dwyer - used with permission.
Street view of Blairstown mural. Photo by Liz Dwyer – used with permission.

The design received unanimous approval from the First Presbyterian Church board, led by the Rev. David Harvey. The mural adorns the side of the church’s community outreach building.

The project also garnered generous support from Blair Academy, which provided all necessary supplies, including brushes and paint. Local contractor Mark Anthony Construction lent a scaffold to assist with the mural’s higher sections.

The mural’s creation kicked off on Friday, May 17, Blair Academy’s Day of Service, with student volunteers from Blair and North Warren participating exclusively on this initial day. The following weekend, community artists joined in to help bring the mural to life. Law and his father, Bob Law, created the air conditioning box that now serves as a barn in the mural.

Dwyer spent hours putting the finishing touches on the mural and ensuring the design looked uniform despite having so many hands participating in the project.

Mural close up. Photo by Liz Dwyer - used with permission.
Mural close up. Photo by Liz Dwyer – used with permission.
Mural close up. Photo by Liz Dwyer - used with permission.
Close up of flowers on Blairstown mural. Photo by Liz Dwyer – used with permission.
Section of Blairstown mural showing the viaduct, church steeple, fields, and a red barn. Photo by Liz Dwyer - used with permission.
Section of Blairstown mural showing the viaduct, church steeple, fields and a red barn. Photo by Liz Dwyer – used with permission.

When asked about the rainy week Blairstown had after the mural project began, Dwyer said, “We were lucky, I came down a few times to make sure it was okay. Fortunately, it was protected by an eave on the building.”

This initiative has beautified the town and strengthened community bonds by showcasing the creative spirit of Blairstown’s residents.

Cybele Tamulonis
Cybele Tamulonis, Contributing Writer

Cybele is a writer and editor with more than 16 years in the publishing industry. An avid reader, you can usually find her with the latest new book release from the local library. She currently resides on a farm in Hardwick with her husband and four children. In her spare time, she writes historical fiction specific to New Jersey.