Talk about changing the look of the village.
The Village of Hamburg prides itself on the revitalization of its downtown area, and three large, colorful murals depicting Hamburg in the early 20th century are catching the eyes of motorists and pedestrians on Main Street.
The murals were erected on the once-stark white walls of the west side of the Bank of America and immediately attracted comments.
“They’re really awesome,” said Pam Patterson, who stopped on a recent walk with Annette Flynt to get an up-close look.
The murals are the brainchild of Village Trustee Paul Gaughan, who has long tried to get improvements to the bank’s facade. He didn’t have much luck with previous owners of the bank, but he did with Bank of America, the latest financial institution to serve customers at 43 Main St.
In the early 20th century, it was the People’s Bank, and its exterior was Indiana limestone, Gaughan said. Over the years, the bank changed hands, the exterior was changed, and the facade with small stones was added. Gaughan said the hope was the bank could remove the exterior and restore the original building, like many other buildings on Main Street.
Bank of America had some structural engineers look at the building, said Kevin Murphy, northeast business banking executive for the bank, but the cost of restoration could have run into the millions.
“The challenge was, the facing you see now is sort of part of the structure, and so the restoration of the building would have been exorbitantly expensive,” he said. “We would have had to almost rebuild it.”
What they did instead was paint the white exterior an earthy tan, and last week the three murals by artist Stephen Rovner went up.
Gaughan said the scenes are color depictions from black-and-white photographs.
“I think it’s going to add some interest as you walk by here,” he said.
One depicts Main Street around 1926. Another is a view one might get looking through the window of the People’s Bank in 1915. The third, and largest, is the train trestle at Eighteen Mile Creek at Water Valley. The two smaller murals are 12 feet by 8 feet, and the larger one is 12 feet by 16 feet.
“It’s kind of a cool thing. We don’t put murals up at many of our banking centers,” Murphy said. “It’s a good way to make the building a little more interesting and view it as part of the community and not detracting from the styles.”