Final designs for West Mt. Pleasant train trestle mural approved by community

The mural proposed for the West Mt. Pleasant Avenue train trestle in West Mt. Airy took another step towards reality on Tuesday night when 10 local residents viewed the final designs for the project. The verdict? Thumbs up all around.

Muralist, Jon Laidacker, and Cathy Harris, director of community murals for the city’s Mural Arts Program, showed slides of the designs at Goat Hollow restaurant, about half a block away from the proposed site. Laidacker revised the designs after input he recieved at an earlier meeting. 

Two separate designs were shown, one for each side of the 65 feet long by 5 feet high trestle. Each emphasizes a different aspect of the community.

One side focused on the community’s proximity to the Wissahickon Valley and features trees, greenery and blocks of native fieldstone. “Mt. Airy” is written in large letters in the sunlit center.

The other resembled a historic representation of the 7100-7200 blocks of Germantown Avenue, with street scenes and people from the 1860s on the left, moving to the early 20th century in the center, with a contemporary vista of the Avenue on the right.

“I did try having a connected theme,” said Laidacker, “it seemed to work better. I wanted something cinematic.” He noted the shape of the mural posed an additional challenge.

The street scene reflected changes based on the criticisms leveled at the last meeting in February where those in attendance generally thought the design, which featured many small pictures, was too cluttered.

The version shown on Tuesday night, however, was met with approval all around. 

Next steps

With the designs accepted by the community, Harris said, the next step is to present them to SEPTA, who owns the trestle. Harris said she did not expect any objections from SEPTA.

After SEPTA’s approval, she said, the Mural Arts Program will identify and hire a contractor to apply aluminum panels to the sides of the trestle to give a flat, uniform surface for the paintings. Then, a community painting day will be scheduled at the Mt. Airy Art Garage.

Laidacker described that as “a great big paint-by-numbers event” in which community volunteers have the opportunity to paint the design on a special variety of cloth called parachute cloth. The painted cloth will then be affixed to the aluminum on the trestle.

If all goes as anticipated, said Harris, “we can get it installed by July or August.”

The project is an initiative of local developers Ken Weinstein and Dan Gordon. The mural’s estimated cost is $36,000, of which the Mural Arts Program is contributing $10,000. Weinstein and Gordon have each agreed to contribute $5,000 toward the project. At the last meeting, the group still had to raise $10,000. As of Tuesday’s meeting, they had $2,500 to go.

Donations to the mural can be made on the Mural Arts Program’s website by specifying “Mt. Pleasant train trestle”. 

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