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West End underpass to receive new mural

Apr. 30, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

HUNTINGTON -- The 14th Street West underpass will get a facelift beginning next week as part of an effort to revitalize Old Central City.

A new mural on the underpass will pay homage to Duncan Box and Lumber and the J Taylor Auto Museum, two mainstays of the small commercial district.

The project has been in the works for about two years, said Joanna Sexton, owner of Hattie and Nan's, an antique shop on 14th Street West and project manager for the Old Central City Association.

Sexton said she asked Myriah Dolen, a former Marshall University student, to come up with some new mural concepts for the underpass walls a few years ago. The floral murals that cover the walls now are showing their age and never fit into the historic image that the commercial district has tried to achieve, she said.

Dolen's creations were very detailed for the available wall space, so Sexton consulted with Bulldog Creative Services, who designed the murals on the 8th Street and 10th Street underpasses, to simplify the mural designs. The finished product will include a mural that looks like a continuation of the Duncan Box and Lumber mill on the west wall and an antique car heading in the direction of the J Taylor Auto Museum on the east wall. A colorful quilt, a tribute to the 10 quilt squares painted on buildings in Old Central City, will serve as the backdrop for the east wall mural.

The murals also will include signs pointing to key attractions in the area, such as Heritage Farm Museum and Village, The Museum of Radio and Technology and the Central City Farmer's Market.

"Bulldog Creative Services has been instrumental in getting this mural ready to go," Sexton said. "They have been the muscle behind the work."

The walls will be pressure washed Friday, May 10, and volunteers from Bloss & Dillard Insurance Managers will paint the mural backgrounds Saturday, May 11. Local artists will add the details to the murals on May 13 and 14. Motorists are urged to use alternative routes while the work is being done.

The Old Central City Association received federal Community Development Block Grant funds to pay for the murals as well as five new wayfinder signs that will be placed in the commercial district and near the 17th Street West exit of Interstate 64. The signs will match other wayfinder signs that have been placed in downtown Huntington and along main arteries into the downtown, Sexton said.

The Old Central City Association also is the entity that now controls the gazebo in the heart of the commercial district. Sexton said her organization has a renewed focus in bringing more events to 14th Street West.

Norman Taylor, who is part owner of Duncan Box and Lumber, located at 1034 14th St. W., said he is excited about the revitalization plans that city officials and business owners have for Old Central City. Taylor recently acquired the old Huntington Fire Station building at the corner of 14th Street West and Madison Avenue in a trade of property with the city. The city needed property that Taylor owned near the floodwall on 3rd Street West as a trailhead for the Paul Ambrose Trail for Health.

"The plan is to try and put a new roof on the fire station and restore it to its original look," Taylor said. "There are a few groups that have expressed interest in it."

Taylor has spruced up the Duncan Box and Lumber property since he became part owner of the 118-year-old business in January 2012. He also plans to make some renovations to the mill building, he said.

"I think this area is the best gateway into Huntington from the interstate, so it should look pleasing to the eye when you come here," Taylor said.

Follow H-D reporter Bryan Chambers on Facebook or Twitter @BryanChambersHD.

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