Our favorite “roving reporter”, Lynne Perrella, comes through again with another fantastic guest blog! This one is about the beautiful new mural some of you might have noticed on the side of Pine Plains Platter (next door to Peck’s). Personally, I’ve been curious about it since they started working on it so I was happy when Lynne offered to get us the back-story. Thanks Lynne!
Story By Lynne Perrella
Photos by Jock Pottle
Let’s meet at the railroad station in Pine Plains. Oh, wait a minute. Trains haven’t passed through Pine Plains in decades. The old station near the center of town is long gone. And yet, thanks to the generosity and creativity of Jack Banning and Doug Larson, we can experience what it must have been like to wait on the platform alongside the local ticket agent and conductor, as the powerful steam-belching ND&C train lumbered into the station. A newly-completed trompe l’oeil mural, commissioned by Jack and designed by Doug is keeping local history alive in Pine Plains. The mural is rich in vintage details; for instance the neat stacks of milk cans, evidence of nearby dairy farms – then and now. The white structure seen behind the red station? – Well, that’s the Davis House, which used to stand where Peck’s parking lot is. Dr. Jacob Isaac Hermance Davis and his young daughter Ann can be seen in an upper (faux) window anticipating a wonderfully-exuberant parade right down the middle of Church Street. Happily, that tradition endures, and festive parades are still enjoyed in Pine Plains.
In fact, everything and everyone depicted in this skillfully-painted mural has special significance to the history of Pine Plains – from the Shekomeko Indians who were early settlers in the Village until the 1700s, to notable Moravian missionaries and leaders. A convincing sheltering pine tree, based on an historic photo from 1894, is included in the composition – a tribute to the significant old grove of native pines that became a burial ground for the Mahican Indians.
A rustic Indian hut appears at the base of the tree, affirming the depictions of historic Pine Plains in the American Museum of Natural History. Identifying names, added as the finishing touch to the mural, provide additional insights and invite the viewer to delve deeper.
It took Doug Larson, a gifted architect with offices in Manhattan and Pine Plains, approximately ten days to complete the mural, working atop a network of scaffolding, using Benjamin Moore exterior paints. Along with three intrepid assistants, Doug worked throughout one-hundred-degree weather; cheered on by curious passersby, motorists exiting Peck’s parking lot, local kids enjoying summer vacation, and a kindly woman known only as “Vivian” who treated the painters to a well-timed delivery of Gatorade.
Doug’s past experiences painting theatrical sets for The Blue Hill Troupe in Manhattan must have surely come in handy; plus his architectural expertise gave him a unique perspective (no pun intended) about how to transform a flat wall into an artfully-painted townscape complete with a cast of historic characters.
But, to me, the real value of the mural was revealed in the words of Jack and Doug, as I met with them at the Pine Plains Platter cafe. These two kindred friends, brought together by the mural project, have provided an enduring gift to the town of Pine Plains. And yet it was quite evident that the process of creating the mural had been its own reward. As Doug sat with his voluminous research files spread out in front of him, he explained that his greatest satisfaction was “in the content” of the mural and all the refinements that had taken place within the process of collaborating with Jack. Best of all was Jack’s happy pronouncement that the outcome of the project was, quite simply, “beyond his wildest dreams”.
If you’re a townsperson in Pine Plains, you’re already aware of the Mural. It’s a newly-minted local landmark. But, if not – Plan a visit soon to this quintessential small town in Dutchess County where local history is vital, viable, and visible. And the arts are alive and well.
[click images below to enlarge]
An informational brochure, providing additional details about the Pine Plains Mural is available at the Pine Plains Platter.
Pine Plains Platter
Jack & Irene Banning, owners
2987 Church Street
Pine Plains, NY
Larson and Paul / Architects