Mural History

Preserving Newport's Main Street Heritage Mural

Mural History Quiz! - Questions + Answers

  1. What building on the Heritage Mural was actually moved?    Answer:  First Baptist Church
  2. The train that crossed Main Street Newport connected what two NH cities?  Answer:  Concord + Claremont
  3. The Eagle Hotel had a unique carved eagle as its  sign. Where was the eagle first displayed? Answer:  On a pole on the 3rd Floor Porch
  4. Prior to the popular Winter Carnival Queen Pageant, at which contestants are judged on poise and talent, how was the Carnival Queen selected?    Answer:  The Contestant who sold the most tickets + buttons.
  5. Name the Heritage Mural building that was described as being  “peripatetic” which means “  traveling from place to place, in particular working or based in various places for relatively short periods” according to a local newspaper article.   Answer:  The Bandstand
  1. During Newport’s Bicentennial a poem/song was performed at the South Congregational Church. What famous Newporter wrote this poem for an earlier anniversary?   Answer:  Sarah Josepha Hale
  2. How did the Methodist Church in Newport get its name “The Church of the Good Shepherd”?   Answer:  A mural painted in the church showed Jesus as a shepherd
  3. At its tallest height, how many stories was the Newport House?    Answer:  Four stories
  4. An end to the almost 50 year history of sled dog racing in Newport’s Winter Carnivals was most likely due to the high cost of care for the dogs and the introduction of what sport in the 1960s?  Answer:  Snowmobile Races
  5. Which Heritage Mural building had a “twin” that was later taken down and replaced by a vital element of the community?  Answer:  Dr. Currier’s House
  6. Approximately how many people could watch a performance at the Empire Theater?   Answer:  425 people
  7. The bell which sits in a glass case on Main Street has been located in two of the Heritage buildings. Name those buildings.   Answer:  Universalist Church / Opera House/Town Hall
  8. A home had to be moved to make room for what Heritage Mural building, in order to end a controversy?   Answer:  Citizens Bank Building
  1. Which of the Heritage Mural buildings was used as a school prior to the building of the Richards School?  Answer:  The Old Courthouse

Newport’s Train Depot + Carts

Train arriving in downtown Newport.

Newport destinations depicted in the Main Street Mural:

  • First Baptist Church

  • Dr. David Currier House

  • Methodist Church

  • Bandstand on the Common

  • Newport House

  • Town Hall/Opera House

  • The Old Courthouse

  • Skiing in Newport and Winter Carnival

  • Empire Theater

  • South Congregational Church

  • Eagle Hotel/Eagle Block

  • First Citizens Bank (now MJ Harrington)

  • Universalist Church

  • History of Sled Dog Racing in Newport and Winter Carnival

  • Depot/Train Crossing/Flagman’s Hut

The “Train” 

The Train Mural’s centerpiece is a scene depicting the first time a railroad train crosses Newport’s Main Street. “The Franklin”, built by the Amoskeag Locomotive Works in Manchester, NH, first traveled across Main Street in close proximity to the location of the mural, on the night of November 21, 1871. About a year and a half before, according to Edmund Wheeler’s town history, a ceremonial groundbreaking had taken place near the passenger depot at sunrise on May 31, 1870. Crowds of people cheered as church bells rang, and cannons were fired. Two of the oldest and most respected gentlemen in town, Seth Wheeler and Dr. Mason Hatch participated in the ceremony. Wheeler struck the first pick, followed by Hatch “who wheeled the first barrow of dirt.” Regular train service from Bradford, NH west to Claremont, NH began the morning of September 16, 1872 as part of the Concord to Claremont Railroad System. This system was the internet of the time bringing visitors, citizens returning home and goods from around the world to our small town.  Its importance is seen in the economic growth of Newport during this time.  The Richards Block with space for shops and offices (now Bar Harbor Bank) was built by Dexter Richards in 1873,  to meet the demands of a growing commercial economy in Newport.

Citizens Bank Building

Eagle Block Hotel

New England Artist Trust Congress

Fast forward in history to September, 1997, when Newport was selected to host the New England Artist Trust Congress IV.  This was the first time the Congress was held in NH and the first time it was located in a rural community. As part of this event, art/community based projects were established; among them was the Train Mural.  Over 100 members of the community, ages 6 – 82, were involved in the project which was headed by  three professional artists, Thor Carlson of Charlestown, NH, Bryony Romer of Brooklyn, NY, and Nick Scalera of Lempster, NH.   Patryc Wiggins and Kathy Hubert were the Congress’ Co-Producers.  The Newport Middle and High School was turned into an art studio for the summer, where community members could paint part of the mural and understand the value of community members working together.  As stated by the co-producers in a letter called “Welcome and thank you” that appeared in the News Leader, “a strategy of the Congress was to leave behind needed, lasting, treasured contributions to the community” and “The artistic integrity and community spirit expressed in the completed public work of art serves to extend honor and ownership to all for years to come.” The park area where the mural is located was also rejuvenated by local businessmen, the town, and community members. Lake Sunapee Bank and  Harrington Jewelers were major sponsors of the Train Mural Project and LaValley Building Supply donated materials to make the mural. In addition to the central theme of the railroad crossing, the mural also includes historic buildings in Newport, yearly changes in scenery, and Newporters doing activities they have enjoyed for years.

First Baptist Church on the Newport Town Common

Methodist Church + Parsonage on the Newport Town Common

Sources

Larry Cote at the Newport Historical Museum for pulling together articles about the 1997 Artist Congress and Train Mural, which include “Welcome and thank you”- September 25, 1997 News Leader, and “There’s a Mural Movement Afoot in Newport, New Hampshire.”

New England Artist Congress IV Program pg. 19 by Ann St. Martin Stout

The History of Newport New Hampshire From 1766 to 1878 by Edmund Wheeler

Celebrating Community: Newport New Hampshire, 1761-2011, by Jayna Huot Hooper

Town Hall/Newport Opera House

South Congregational Church

Help preserve the Main Street Heritage Mural!

Find out more about options for donating to this exciting public art preservation project.  Sponsor-a-panel or donate in any amount toward the reproduction effort.

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