The mural at the northwest corner of Clay and Washington Streets — the one depicting the historic and picturesque Graham's Mill Bridge — is being removed.
The mural, originally painted about 15 years ago, was painted on concrete board and affixed to a wooden support grid attached to the building wall. The decision to take down the mural was difficult.
"It is with great regret that we need to remove the Graham's Mill Mural (502 Washington Street) located in the pocket park," said Crystal Narr, director of Main Street Chillicothe. "This decision was not made lightly, but due to heightened concerns of public safety, the mural must be removed."
The cause of the safety issues is multi-faceted including, but not limited to, the use of improper materials and general deterioration, Narr said. The Graham's Mill Mural is the only one of its type in downtown, since it is not painted directly on the wall.
"Over the course of six years, we had lost a total of four panels," she said. "It was gradually getting worse."
Once a panel came down, a new one painted by local artist Kelly Poling went up quickly in its place.
"We are hopeful that once the mural is carefully removed and securely stored, we can begin to fully understand the cause of the problem and a solution can be implemented. Once that is complete, we will try to work with the building owner to see if work can be done to secure the wall so possibly a mural can be restored to the space."
The mural was erected in 1997, shortly after the removal of the old Ritz Theater, which had once stood at that corner, and repainted in 2002.
"We know the positive impact of the murals to our community," said Narr. "They not only bring beauty and a sense of place, but they also serve as an tourism draw and boost our local economy, as visitors come for the murals then shop, dine, and stay locally.
"Furthermore," Narr continued, "the Graham's Mill Mural specifically serves as the gateway to downtown from the south entrance, and completes the idyllic setting of the park."