Talks Continue For Tindley Mural

Talks Continue For Tindley Mural

BERLIN– Planning for a mural to honor the Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley continued with a meeting of stakeholders.

Lisa Challenger, executive director of Beach to Bay Heritage Area, hosted a meeting with community members last week to talk about plans for a mural to celebrate Tindley, the gospel music icon born in Berlin. Though the Berlin Historic District Commission voiced concerns with the proposal last fall, group members have made some changes they’re hoping will be well received.

“We’ve shown we’re willing to compromise to get this done,” Challenger said. “We just don’t want them to say no.”

Challenger’s organization received a $40,000 grant last year for a new African American tourism product that would be linked to existing sites to create a driving trail tourists could follow. Because Tindley was born in Berlin and went on to become such a well-known figure, Challenger said it made sense to honor him with the project. A mural was identified as the best way to do that.

“Murals are gaining a lot of popularity as a way for communities to express their history and their people in a way that is appealing to visitors,” Challenger said at last week’s meeting. “Many towns both rural and urban are using them.”

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Because members of the town’s historic district commission voiced concerns about the proposal when it was presented to them in October, Challenger said she wanted to meet with stakeholders to see what could be done to address those concerns. She added that J.E. Parker, owner of the building where they’d planned to put the mural, had withdrawn his offer of space following the historic district commission meeting. Worcester County Commissioner Diana Purnell said that was the ideal location and that she hoped Parker would reconsider.

“The Berlin historical society should be proud to participate, to put something like this in the Town of Berlin,” Purnell said. “This is where it’s going to be effective. I know Jay Parker. Somebody got to his head for him to change his mind.”

Berlin resident Bryan Russo, a supporter of the mural who has written a song about Tindley, said the commission’s primary concern was painting on historic brick.

“I know the historic commission takes their job very seriously and they want to make sure they protect the town moving forward but they also should not navigate from the school of no,” he said.

Challenger noted that the draft mural shown during the meeting was just a starting off point, as artist Jay Coleman could adjust his proposal based on the group’s input. Carol Rose, chair of the Berlin Historic District Commission, said she thought her fellow commission members would have a better understanding of the project if Challenger and other project supporters were in attendance when the proposal was reviewed.

In an effort to gain the historic commission’s support, the group agreed to have Coleman develop a couple potential mural design options. They’re also planning to reach out to Parker with a plan to have the mural done on panels — so the paint wouldn’t be directly on the historic brick — to see if he’d reconsider offering his William Street building as a location. The project could be presented to the Berlin Historic District Commission in March.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.