- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

ROGERSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Figuratively speaking, the story of Rogersville’s historic downtown has been written with every brick placed there for the past 240 years.

Literally speaking, the story of Rogersville’s historic downtown is now written on actual bricks - in the form of a mural completed late last year beside a vacant lot on the side of a Main Street building.

Nearly 40 years ago an old, mostly wooden building on Main Street that had housed a sewing machine shop and a shoe shop a few doors east of the Church Street intersection burned down.

From then on it was a vacant lot blocked from Main Street foot traffic by an old chain link fence that didn’t really match the historic ambiance of Tennessee’s second oldest historic downtown.

That is, until last year when the Rogersville Chamber of Commerce and Rogersville Main Street Program were awarded a Tennessee Arts Commission grant which paid for a more aesthetically pleasing wrought iron fence and gate to replace the old fence.

The grant also helped pay for the materials to paint a large mural on the side of the building on the east side of the vacant lot.

Rogersville Chamber of Commerce director Nancy Barker told the Times-News that the long range goal is to develop a small park in that vacant lot.

“It will have a pavilion with some picnic tables, and a walkway,” Barker said. “It’s just to have a little place where - if you’re guests in town and you want to go into one of our restaurants to get something to eat - we have a little place just to go and sit and enjoy being in our downtown. We also envision possibly having a small venue for some musical entertainment during some of our events.”

The mural depicts 42 buildings or points of interest from the late 1700s through the 1800s, mostly in downtown Rogersville although there are a few locations of historic significance to Rogersville from surrounding areas that are also represented.

Beside the mural is a legend that identifies each structure.

Most of the buildings depicted are still standing, but the legend also identifies those structures that are no longer in existence, or may not look the same now as they did 150-200 years ago.

It was painted by Lorna Paquin, who resides in Mooresburg, and is a member of the Rogersville Local Artists Gallery. She was assisted by two other local artists, Barry Campbell and Bruce Campbell.

“We chose her because she had done some murals in California before she moved here,” Barker said. “She worked almost a year researching all the buildings and what she was going to put into the painting. There are a lot of little details in that. We talked a little bit about the cattle being sold on the courthouse lawn, so she put some cattle in there.”

Barker added, “Some of the things (depicted) are not in the historic district, but they were important to the development of the historic district. The Ebbing and Flowing Springs Church is listed on it, the Crockett Springs Park where Davy Crockett’s grandparents were massacred and buried - to kind of just give an overall history captured in one big mural.”

The vacant lot and the building on which the mural was painted are owned by Civis Bank, which is partnering with the city on the park development project.

Barker said the bank plans on leasing the vacant lot to the city, and once those arrangements are created the park development can move forward and the city will begin maintaining the property.

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Information from: Kingsport Times-News, https://www.timesnews.net

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