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January 5, 2018

Marshall mural proposed for idle grain elevator

Chesapeake artist Sam Welty produced this conceptual illustration of a John Marshall portrait painted on the old grain elevator.
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Debbie and Chris Cloud propose to mange the project through their nonprofit foundation, the Global Family Alliance.
We wanted to incorporate heritage, patriotism and agriculture. Those three themes and John Marshall seemed to be a natural.
— Chris Cloud
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
The idea of mural for the Hagerstown Block Co.’s idle grain elevator in Marshall occurred to him last summer.

“I was coming into Marshall from The Plains,” recalls Chris Cloud, a Realtor, strategic consultant and Fauquier public school bus driver. “I was sitting at the railroad tracks. And I have seen that building” since his family moved to the county in the late 1970s. “And it hasn’t changed a bit in all that time.

“I thought we really ought to paint that building. And then the thought came to me.”

Mr. Cloud and his wife Debbie, also a Realtor and consultant, want a mural that would honor the community.

“We wanted to incorporate heritage, patriotism and agriculture,” Mr. Cloud says. “Those three themes and John Marshall seemed to be a natural.”

Born in Midland, Mr. Marshall — the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court — lived at historic Oak Hill near Delaplane.

After a Google search of muralists, Mr. Cloud contacted Chesapeake-based artist Sam Welty about the proposal.

He emailed a John Marshall portrait to Mr. Welty, who combined it with a “generic” countryside background and superimposed that image on a photograph of the tower.

As shown in the composite photo, the mural would dominate two sides of the 70-foot tall of the concrete elevator.

“It’s a very living history sort of idea,” Mrs. Cloud says.

The couple, who lives near Marshall, chose Mr. Welty because they wanted a “true-to-life, realistic representation” of their ideas for the work, Mr. Cloud explains.

“Something you could be proud of,” his wife adds.

The doctored image amounts to “basically a concept of what’s possible,” Mr. Cloud says.

If the project proceeds, details could include the Blue Ridge Mountains and other elements specific to Fauquier and the region, the couple suggests.

After discussions with Mr. Welty, who visited Marshall, the Clouds estimate the mural could cost up to $40,000, including the artist’s fee of $12,000 to $16,000.

The couple hopes to bankroll the project through fundraisers, individual donations and other contributions, including room and board for Mr. Welty, equipment, materials, insurance and the like.

The project would be managed through the Clouds’ nonprofit foundation, the Global Family Alliance.

If things go as they hope, Mr. Welty could begin in May or June and complete the mural in two to three weeks, according to the couple.

The Clouds had planned to meet with Supervisor Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall District) on Thursday morning to discuss the project. But a conflict involving Mr. Cloud’s school bus driving schedule prevented that.

“I don’t have a position on it,” Ms. McDaniel, who has seen the composite image, said Thursday. “I would like to find out more about it . . . . It’s premature for me to comment on it.”

The Clouds have discussed the proposal with a county community development department staffer.

“We won’t have any issues with zoning or historic impact,” Mr. Cloud says.

But the notion of incorporating the names of sponsoring businesses in the mural raised issues related to Fauquier’s sign ordinance, he says.

Any references to donors would be “very sublime” so they don’t “denigrate into an advertisement,” Mr. Cloud says.

The county staff continues to evaluate the proposal, according to zoning chief Rob Walton.

The Clouds will explain the project to the Marshall Business and Residents Association at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Marshall Community Center.

After that, they plan to visit local businesses seeking support.

So far, the idea has been well received, Mrs. Cloud says.

“Everyone we talk to it’s like, ‘What can we do’?”

But Bob Sinclair, president of the Marshall-based Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation, has strong misgivings about a mural as depicted in the composite image.

While it “pleases” him that someone wants to improve the elevator’s appearance, “this seems to be a commercialization of John Marshall and his service to Fauquier County,” says Mr. Sinclair, speaking for himself, not the foundation. “As a citizen of this area and Fauquier, I do not find this to be a viable use of this granary tower.”

He calls the concept a bit “tacky” and “out of sync with” Marshall.

“I think I have a pretty good feel for the pulse of the people in this community. The pulse would say this is going to go over like the proverbial lead balloon. This is not going to fly.”

Maryland-based Hagerstown Block, which has operated the distribution plant in Marshall since 1982, supports the mural proposal, Manager Doug Gray says.

But the grain elevator — closed in the mid-1950s — remains a target of graffiti artists, Mr. Gray notes.

He worries that could mean mural maintenance challenges.

“My only concern is the graffiti, after they put (the mural) up there. Why waste all the time, effort and money and then the kids come right behind it and destroy it? But, like (Mr. Cloud) says, you can take a water hose and wash it off. I don’t know. I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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Steve Kling · January 8, 2018 at 9:06 am
Ugh. Mange is an apt misprint. What a hideous way to attempt to honor one of the greatest American Jurist and Federalist.
BJ · January 6, 2018 at 8:55 pm
Wasn't Marshall once called Salem or "Old Salem"? Leave the portrait of John Marshall off, and have rolling green hills with horses and farms, and I'd be for it.
Tell It Like It Is · January 6, 2018 at 10:30 am


Better think this all the way through folks before maybe having to paint over it after laying out the cash for the project. It may fall prey to removal like other monuments elsewhere all over this state and country.

jkopach79 · January 5, 2018 at 4:39 pm
Mange the project?
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