UNVEILING HISTORY: Mural depicting Troy’s famous people, places revealed

Published 9:20 pm Monday, June 24, 2019

Troy Mayor Jason A. Reeves perhaps said it best.

“There are no adequate words for such a moment.”

Reeves was speaking to a packed house at The Studio in downtown Troy Monday evening. The moment was the unveiling of “An Alabama 200 Celebration Mural.”

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And it was a moment in time when 176 years of history came into focus on an 8×26-foot mural that was representative of the people, the places and the stories of a town called Troy.

Reeves said the “Alabama 200 Celebration Mural” is awe-inspiring and brings great recognition and honor to the city and “celebrates who we are as a people.”

The mural is a project of the city’s Troy Reunion Committee and Stephanie Baker, committee chair, acknowledged the influence of the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, which spearheaded the 200 Alabama movement that has swept the state with a wave of pride in its people, its places and its stories.

Baker said the Troy Reunion Committee was encouraged by the commission to personalize the city’s own histories but, “we had to work fast.”

And work the committee did.

First, the committee hosted a Heritage Walk in downtown Troy with signage that told the history of significant buildings. The next historical event was U.S. Congressman John Lewis Day.

“Congressman Lewis has received global recognition but we wanted to thank the ‘Troy Boy’ here at home and let him know how much he is appreciated,” Baker said. “In November, the committee recognized and thanked our veterans for their service with a day in their honor. That included a living wax museum by students from local elementary schools.”

A video featuring local veterans was shown at the Troy Public Library and “swelled patriotic pride” throughout the community.

As the three-year celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial began to come to a close, Reunion Troy’s plans for a mural that highlighted the people and places of historical significance in Troy and told the community’s stories shifted into high gear.

The idea behind the mural was that a picture is worth a thousand words or more. But Baker said a great amount of thought, research and planning went into just who and what before the city’s landscape could come into focus.

“The mural would be on snapshot in time,” Baker said. “It would be multi-generational. People who never knew each other and who didn’t live in the same time period would be connected.”

For the mural project, a Trojan, who was set to graduate from Troy University with a fine arts degree, was chosen as the lead artist for the mural project.

“When I learned that I had been chosen I shed a baby tear and them I called my mom and screamed,” said Alex McLendon, who, as a Charles Henderson High School art student had worked on other mural projects in the city.

With the support and assistance of the Reunion Troy committee and her mentor and former art teacher, Pam Smith, McLendon began to visually fill the empty 8×26-foot space that would be a visual snapshot of Troy’s history.

On Monday night, the Alabama 200 Celebration Mural was unveiled to spirited and appreciative applause.  Stories of Troy’s history are told by the buildings and the people painted there. But those places and people are just a few of the many stories yet to be told, perhaps on other murals or on the pages of books to be written. Or maybe songs to be sung.

The story of Troy’s Bicentennial mural has many writers and many players who worked tirelessly behind the scenes. The Troy Reunion Committee has pamphlets available that tell about the project and those who were a part of it. The pamphlets will be available at the Johnson Center for the Arts just across the street from the mural on East Walnut Street. The mural is now a part of the landscape of the City of Troy and it has stories to tell. The public is invited to stop and listen.