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Discussing finishing touches to the Manchester historic mural are, from left, Hapeville-based artist John Christian, Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn McKinley, Pattisue Elliott, and Manchester Mayor Mike Brening. Funding for the mural came in part from a Georgia Council for the Arts grant.

Manchester historic mural nears completion

Fifth in Meriwether County’s ‘Murals and Monarchs’ series

“We have the best Roosevelt,” says Manchester mural supporter Pattisue Elliott, right, shown with artist John Christian. President Franklin D. Roosevelt is featured on several of the five Meriwether County community murals done so far. FDR was often seen around the region as he visited for treatment of his paralysis due to polio and get-aways to his Little White House near Warm Springs.  In Manchester he would be driven in his convertible to Wheeler’s Drugstore where he would be brought a cherry Coke.

August 14, 2017

Manchester, GA – Artist John Christian was busy in the hot summer sun putting finishing touches on a mural recalling Manchester, Georgia’s historic past.

Giving their input on this August afternoon were Mayor Mike Brening; Pattisue Elliott, whose late husband Tyron Elliott is remembered with one of the scenes; and Meriwether County Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn McKinley, who headed fund-seeking efforts that resulted in a grant from Georgia Council for the Arts.

One side of the mural features landmarks including the water tower drivers see entering town, the old Manchester Mill, Freedom Park honoring local veterans, and a wooden train caboose parked at “Elliott Station.” The train enclosure is named in honor of late Manchester attorney Tyron Elliott, who among his many accomplishments was a director of the Woodbury Banking Company , director for the Development Authority, City of Manchester, chairman of the Manchester Railroad Days Festival and managing partner of the Orchard Hills Farms in Turner County.  Elliott represented Meriwether County Board of Commissioners, Meriwether County Water and Sewage Authority, Meriwether County Industrial Development Authority, Roosevelt-Warm Springs Development Fund and the Meriwether County Airport Authority and was actively involved with many church and civic events. His love for his city and county was immeasurable.

The President Theatre anchors the mural’s other side. The theatre’s marquee sports the title “Diamond Jim,” the movie that played when the theatre opened in 1935. Storefronts include a curbside produce market, barber shop and shoe shop along with Wheeler’s Drugstore. In the foreground President Franklin D. Roosevelt sits in his convertible automobile as he would when pulling up to Wheeler’s, where they would bring him a cherry Coke. “We have the best Roosevelt,” said Mrs. Elliott, noting that he is featured on several of the Meriwether murals.

Pres. Roosevelt seems to be surprised at a large trademark blue and yellow CSX engine smashing through the regional map at the mural’s center. The engine is marked “1909,” a reference to Manchester’s founding year. But inclusion of the modern train looks to Manchester’s future. Wording will include the slogan: “Manchester: Past to Present, Water to Land.”

The new mural is at Manchester’s Broad Street and W. Main on the side of the building housing El Agave Mexican Restaurant. It is the fifth of a planned seven murals in Meriwether’s Murals and Monarchs project. Hapeville, Ga.-based artist John Christian of Go Georgia Arts has already done murals in Warm Springs, Lone Oak, Woodbury and Greenville. The focus of Christian’s Go Georgia Arts organization is to create and support visual and dramatic arts in communities and counties in Georgia. He has painted murals for several other communities across Georgia.

“Georgia’s communities are filled with great art, inspired artists and bold visions for the ways in which local art can bolster economic development efforts in our communities,” said GCA executive director Karen Paty. “GCA recognizes that a thriving arts community contributes immeasurably to economic and social vitality, and the Vibrant Communities grant is one of the ways in which we support the incredible work happening in our communities.”

While Manchester’s mural is made possible in part by the grant from Georgia Council for the Arts, funding for the other four county-wide mural projects has included support from state Tourism Product Development grants through the Georgia Department of Economic Development.

McKinley noted that other financial contributors to Manchester’s mural include the Manchester Development Authority, Downtown Development Authority, City of Manchester and Meriwether Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. She also thanked the Meriwether County Board of Commissioners for their ongoing support for tourism efforts.

So far, Meriwether’s Murals and Monarchs tourism project has been an almost three-year journey.  In addition to the murals, butterfly gardens have been established in Warm Springs, Luthersville and Manchester. A butterfly garden with a water feature nears completion in Woodbury, and efforts have just begun on planting a butterfly garden in Greenville.