October 24, 2011—PSU students who participated in the Brown Company Research & Development Building public mural project are being honored as the inaugural recipients of the “Young Preservationists” award from the NH Preservation Alliance.
The Alliance is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a series of events and the institution of this new award intended to honor contributions made by young adults that support, communicate, and highlight important NH places, innovations, and other artifacts of cultural and historical significance. The recipients are invited to participate in a number of events over the coming months. Their specific contributions will be featured and celebrated at these events.
The mural panels are the high-profile centerpiece of a trio of collaborative projects intended to feature the unique and powerful history of innovation of Brown Company in Berlin, NH. Comprising twenty-four 4’x8′ painted panels, the exhibit is on display on the street-facing side of the building where it will remain until the restoration is complete. After that, the panels will move indoors to become a permanent exhibit.
The mural project came about when Jim Wagner (Northern Forest Heritage Park and Brown Research Building Rehabilitation Project) and DES representative, Keith DuBois, inspected the building and determined that a protective solution to the leaking windows of the building’s west wing needed to be implemented as soon as possible. (The wing is slated for environmental remediation and historic rehabilitation, as was completed in the building’s east wing.) DuBois had the idea of covering the windows with student art projects and an idea was born.
Wagner, who has collaborated with the Center for Rural Partnerships at Plymouth State University on other projects in the past, saw an opportunity to involve PSU students in a one-of-a-kind project to educate the public and celebrate an important part of Berlin’s history. He contacted Thad Guldbrandsen, who connected with faculty members Tom Driscoll and (now Dean of Arts & Sciences) Cynthia Vascak. Tom offered to create a public mural course for the Spring 2011 semester and the planning phase began in earnest.
Students visited the site, interviewed content experts, developed and proposed multiple designs, and executed the final version—all within the bounds of a single semester!
Involved in the project were: Olivia Benish, Michelle Boudreau, Brittany Connors, Nicole Copple, Nathan Cote, Katie Cotoir, Elizabeth Dalp, Meredith Gourley, Tara Krehbiel, Craig Maines, Kristin Sarette, and Sam Smart.
Kaleb Hart captured the project in progress with photographs (including those featured in this post) and is producing a video documentary.
The mural project required collaboration and support from a wide range of participants, including funders, off-campus organizations and suppliers, content experts, and others. In addition to securing partial funding and networking to connect with supportive suppliers, Jim Wagner coordinated the off-campus participants and installation of the panels.
PSU contributions included course development and execution (Tom Driscoll), project facilitation (Thad Guldbrandsen), content review (Linda Upham-Bornstein), design and execution (PSU students), and project proposal development/management (Alice Richmond). The project was funded, in part, by the Neil & Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation via the CfRP’s Coös County Outreach Initiative.