Building mural will be preserved

By Lynn R. Parks

The exterior of the just-opened Downtown Alley on Market Street in Bridgeville has a new coat of paint. Workers with Wade Construction, in Seaford and Laurel, were on the job on Monday, spreading white paint over the cement block building.

Both Scott Dukes and James Ricardo were being very careful not to get paint on the mural on the east side of the building, put there 24 years ago by artist Jack Lewis and students from Woodbridge High School. The mural will be left alone, said Jane Houtman, who owns Downtown Alley. (Jeff Tull, Bridgeville, owns the building. He did not respond to a request for comment.)

The Lewis mural is divided into four panels. The first two panels tell the history of Bridgeville and feature a Bridgeville fire engine, the old Cannon Cannery, the barbershop on Market Street, the town hall, area churches, a chicken and baskets of produce.

The third panel, with which the high school students helped, shows a Woodbridge Blue Raider basketball game. And the fourth panel honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In 2009, the town of Bridgeville hired Wilmington artist Brian T. Phillips to fix up the mural. He scraped off loose paint and primed spots that needed it. Then he touched up the murals to match what was originally there and put a clear preservative over the whole work. Cost was $1,100.

At the time that he painted the mural, Lewis lived in Bridgeville. He and his wife, Dorothy, moved to York, Maine, in 1998. In 2010, Gov. Jack Markell presented him with the Order of the First State, commemorating his career as artist and author.

Lewis died in Maine in 2012, at the age of 99.

Lewis' murals can also be seen in the entranceway of the Bridgeville Fire Hall, in the Woodbridge Middle School and in the Bridgeville Public Library. A little down the road, in Seaford, Lewis murals decorate the inside of the PNC Bank at 1200 Stein Highway.

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