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‘WALL OF HONOR’: People’s inclusion in Troy mural a legacy

The veil has been removed and the City of Troy’s historic mural, “Our People, Our Places, Our Stories” may now be viewed in its entirety.

When Alex McLendon and fellow artists first began to brush history onto the wall of the City of Troy Tourism and Public Relations building on East Walnut Street, people were asking who and what would tell Troy’s stories.

On Monday night, the mural was unveiled and the answers became publicly known.

Stephanie Baker, Reunion Troy chair, said the committee is made up of educators, historians, students and business and community leaders of various generations. Historical research, interviews and community input were the basis for the people and places to be depicted on the mural. She also said there will be other murals as Troy’s story continues to be told.

The Studio on East Walnut Street was packed Monday night as the community turned out to hear the story of how the mural came to be and the process by which it became a reality and another display of the city’s pride in places and people.

The Reunion Troy committee designed a pamphlet that includes McLendon’s watercolor painting of the mural’s places and a bullet-point presentation of those places and the people.

The stories that the mural inspired shared center stage at the unveiling ceremony.

At age 93, Dr. Johnny Long said the mural probably brought back more memories for him than for most of those in attendance.

“I was so honored to be included on the mural,” Dr. Long said. “The mural is remarkable; it is even more than I expected it to be. It brought back so many memories for me of my friends and supporters here in Troy and I love every one of them. The mural is fabulous. I’m lucky to be alive to see it and to be a part of it. I am thankful for the honor.”

Mack Gibson, retired Troy Pike Culture Arts Foundation chair, said, too, that the mural brought back memories of people and places and those memories inspired stories.

“That’s what is so wonderful about the mural,” he said. “People will see it and remember and they will tell their children stories about those people and places. The mural is a wonderful capturing of Troy’s history and a great addition to downtown Troy.
“You walk out the front door of the Johnson Center for the Arts and look across the street at another piece of art hanging. It’s a wonderful way to tell our town’s history and help preserve our past.”

Dr. Eddie Warren, son of the late Johnnie Mae Warren, said his mom would be very appreciative to the City of Troy that she was deemed worthy to be included on the mural.

“The mural is what I consider a wall of honor,” Warren said. “I appreciate my mother’s being recognized and honored. She would be pleased that the community recognizes those people that are a part of the city’s history and of its future.”

Among the people so recognized and honored on the City of Troy’s historic mural are Ann Love, philanthropist; Jean Thompson Lake, folk artist; Alex McLendon, mural artist; Clarence “Pinetop” Smith, boogie woogie style musician; Herman Moll, Troy’s Mr. Music; Dr. Johnny Long, nationally acclaimed bandmaster; Sheila Jackson, local vocalist; “Papa” Wallace Love, Dan Grubbs and Roscoe Lightfoot, minority master brick masons who were credited with literally building the City of Troy; Dr. Oscar Edge, hospital administrator; Nicklaus Chrysson, committee historian; Charles Henderson, philanthropist and Alabama’s 35th governor; Betty Wagoner, beloved educator; Jason A. Reeves, Troy mayor; Johnnie Mae Warren, Civil Rights Movement leader; Alphonsa Byrd, first African-American to hold public office in Troy; Urban Louis Jones, mayor credited with bringing the railroad to Troy; Johnny Witherington, Troy City Council president for 32 years; Jimmy Lunsford, Troy’s longest serving mayor; Sam Murphree, Troy’s longest serving city commissioner, Charles Meeks, city’s longest serving public official, Stephanie Baker, first Caucasian female elected to the Troy City Council; Holman Johnson, Troy portrait and cityscape photographer; and Douglas Edwards, the first CBS television news anchorman.

The places included on the historic mural include the Pike County Courthouse, Enzor Theater, Masonic Temple, Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church, the 1895 Water Tower, Troy Normal School, First Baptist Church, Alabama Baptist Children’s Home, First United Methodist Church, Gellerstedt Building, Rosenberg Bros. and Douglas Brothers.

Also included on Troy’s Historic Mural are a B-25 WWII bomber which symbolizes the impact the late Wiley Sanders, Sanders Lead Company, Wiley Sanders Truck Lines and KW Plastics have on the community and a 1964 Chevy Nova owned by Dr. Ralph Adams, Troy State College president, 1964 to 1989.