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10/10/2017 12:09:00 PM
Artists restoring 1937-39 Fountain County courthouse murals

Nick Hedrick, Journal Review

COVINGTON — Schuyler LaTourette turns the handle of the loom that weaved his family’s prized coverlets as a woman stands over an iron pot, ready to throw in the bird that was hunted for supper.

The scene plays out on the walls of the Fountain County Courthouse, where art conservators have been restoring and preserving the more than 2,500-square-feet of murals that tell the story of western Indiana from the pioneer days to World War I.

They were painted from 1937-1939 by local artists under the direction of muralist Eugene Savage, a Covington native. 

“This is a gem,” said Becky Wilson, a technician for Acanthus Arts, which is doing the project.

Work began in July to “consolidate” the murals, a process that involves re-gluing the paintings to the walls. Years of moisture build-up had darkened and yellowed the paintings, causing bits of the paint to flake off.

Technicians have also removed a temporary protective covering and cleaned the panels.

“There’s a lot more of the detail that’s visible,” said Mary Yeager, who’s leading the project with her husband, Brian Frick. Technicians Carla Knopp and Chris Colombe round out the crew.

The project is funded by private and corporation donations and more than $85,000 in grants. Fountain County Art Council continues raising money for the restoration. 

Fountain County is matching donations dollar-for-dollar.

As courthouse visitors and employees passed by, Wilson stood on a scaffold, meticulously repainting a log cabin on a panel depicting the county’s pioneer settlements.

“It’s pretty [eaten] up and it’s been painted over so many times” that little of the original paint is visible, Wilson said. 

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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