Freshman Trustee Melinda "Mickey" Kopp came to the Chittenango Village Board last year with an idea. A longtime artist friend of hers, Jonathan DeFrees, had approached her with an idea: Historic murals to adorn some of the wide-open brick walls in downtown.
"Jon came to me after I was elected last March," Kopp said. "He had this idea already and had some drawings, sketches."
There wasn't any money in the budget to do much with it last year, Kopp said, and the subject was dropped for a few months. But Budget Officer Bob Freunscht said the $8,500 proposed for the project in this year's downtown revitalization budget line has survived the first round of cuts, and Kopp is cautiously optimistic that at least some work can get underway for what will be an interactive community project.
"I had this idea since seeing two small murals in Morrisville," DeFrees, a retired art teacher said. "I moved back to town in 2002 after retiring from teaching in Nashville, Tenn., and walking downtown I could see things had changed. Buildings were empty and the empty wall on the side of the Benson Building, I thought there should be a mural there."
DeFrees, who said he would like the scenes to depict the turn of the last century, began researching the area. In old newspapers and photographs, he found the necessary details of design, travel and apparel of the era. In the course of his research, DeFrees also found a copy of "Historic Sullivan" by town historian Carol Case Greene.
"It had all these postcards in it, so all that was left to do was to pick the scenes to include," DeFrees said.
Those postcards depicted the story of a vibrant and bustling village, DeFrees said.
"Chittenango Falls, at one point, according to Dick Sullivan, had a road that used to go up the west side of the creek," DeFrees said. "There was a turnaround area where you were lower than street level but above creek level."