Last week, Mansfield cheered the unveiling of a new outdoor mural painted by local artist Tamara Haase celebrating the events, places and people that make the town special.
The 50 by 15 foot mural is painted on the North side of what was previously the Air Power building, across the street from Hays Tractor.
The mural was the brainchild of Kathryn Honey, who was taking private oil painting lessons from Haase when she suggested honoring the town’s rich history with a mural.
Haase, who put aside her fine arts degree for several years as she raised children, said she felt blessed to have the opportunity.
“I believe it was the Lord’s work,” she said. “I believe he sent it to me; I wasn’t thinking something that large, an outdoor mural never crossed my mind.”
“I knew somehow I’d be able to do it,” she said.
Working outside in the sun for hours at a time was tiring, and Haase found painting on the rough brick surface a challenge. But the support Haase received from the community kept her going, she said.
“People would shout out of the windows of their car, give me the thumbs up; I had the regulars who would walk or bike over every day just to talk to me…they kept my spirits up,” she said. “The people of Mansfield are just the nicest people.”
Haase researched the project by meeting with local historian Mary Hays and browsing through her photos and resources.
They formed a committee along with Linda Cobb and Wayne Blackwell of Blackwell Grocery. Haase completed a drawing that was approved by the committee, though many great historical scenes had to be left out because of space constraints, she said.
The building owner Ron Harris gave them the go ahead while Honey and her husband, Bill Honey, financed the project. The Newton County Historical Society was also instrumental in the completion of the project.
The various places represented on the mural include Carmel Church, which still stands and was there before the town was incorporated in 1903; Hays Tractor, which is in its third generation of Hays ownership; Beaver manufacturing, which employs many Mansfield residents; Hays and Dennis store, now Blackwell Grocery; Perfect Apparels, a shirt factory in the ‘40’s; Sherrod Smith, the major league baseball player who pitched in World Series game against Babe Ruth and who is buried in Mansfield; a Central of Georgia train car being loaded from an ox drawn wagon; the Charlie Elliot entrance sign; and a local barn.
Haase, who has lived in the area for 10 years, said the experience has changed the way she feels about the community.
“We really did not even identify with the town other than just stopping into the post office or Blackwell Grocery…but now I feel like I belong there.”