MURAL RESTORATION IN BAY ST. LOUIS, MS
In 1997, artist John McDonald received a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission to paint a mural depicting the history of a beloved small, coastal town in Mississippi, Bay St. Louis. "The Promenade" as the mural is called, traces the history of Bay St. Louis from the 1600's to now.
The mural is located on the back of the Hancock Bank building in downtown Bay St. Louis.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the small town in Hancock County in August of 2005, the mural was nearly destroyed. The deep flood waters of Hurricane Katrina faded the colors of the mural, causing the image to lose its sheen and former glory.
In July of 2015 the Bannister Foundation agreed to fund the hiring of a firm that was able to enact a restoration plan for the mural. Norton Arts, Inc. originally based out of New York, NY, but currently operating in Arkansas, was chosen to lead the restoration project.
Bannister Foundation chose Norton Arts, Inc. due to their extensive craftsmanship and high attention to detail. Norton Arts, Inc. is known for specializing in the conservation of paintings, historic architectural elements, statuary art glass, and antiquities.
In June of 2017, Bannister Foundation decided to follow up with some of the people who were key in helping to restore the mural to its former glory.
We first spoke with Tim Kellar, Hancock County Chancery Clerk and longtime supporter of the mural. Tim told us that he originally supported the restoration of the mural because it tells the true story of Hancock County. From the Indians and Early Settlers all the way to today. Tim let us know how grateful he was to Bannister Foundation for seeing this project through. "This mural is crucial to both the economic development and tourism in Bay St. Louis and Hancock County. The Bay St. Louis community is know for their love of the arts and the fact that we have such an amazing focal point for our residents and guests is truly amazing."
We also followed up with Elizabeth Norton with Norton Art. Elizabeth and her team have handled a lot of important historical artifacts over the years. From Robert E. Lee's Dispatch Bag to Norman Rockwell's audition piece for the Art Student's League, and everything in between. We asked Elizabeth why Norton Art decided to travel to the MS Gulf Coast to work on the mural restoration project, "The conservation of local art is so important. Too often the decision is made to tear down a historical structure because its easier and often less expensive. But, local artwork is crucial to the culture of its community. Everyone can appreciate a Van Gogh or a Picasso, but often will forget about the local art. We couldn't let Katrina win, we couldn't let her take away the this mural that told the history of the community."