Blast from the past

LEWISTOWN – Historic local theaters will be the focus of a new mural that will grace the walls at 13 E. Market Street, the location of Wilson’s Jewelry store in downtown Lewistown.

Paul Wilson has offered up the wall of his business as the canvas for artist Dwight Kirkland to paint a mural depicting Lewistown’s old theaters, along with some actors who graced the silver screen and stages. Work on the mural is set to begin on July 8.

The Embassy Theatre is the official sponsor of the project, and the Friends of the Embassy is accepting donations which will be put toward funding work on the inside of the theatre.

Kirkland – who has painted murals throughout the country, including several in Lewistown – said he is excited about the new project. He also is looking for a few volunteers to help prep the wall.

“I want this to be immediate gratification for Lewistown,” Kirkland said.

One of Kirkland’s best known murals is in Victory Park, where larger-than-life depictions of soldiers from World War I to the Iraq war cover a retaining wall below Mifflin County Veterans Memorial Bridge.

“I had more fun doing Victory Park than any other time,” he said.

Jim Tunall, president of the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, said Lewistown is turning into a Kirkland gallery.

“When I got the grant money for the Logan Guard Mural, I told them I was going to paint the town. I’m not done,” Kirkland said.

Tunall said this project was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Wilson’s Jewelry, Juniata Valley Bank, the Embassy Theatre and the chamber and visitors bureau.

“Downtown is coming to life with the streetscape projects, the murals and new light posts,” Tunall said.

Tunall said Lewistown has entered into an exciting era in which business and industry are growing and the aesthetics of downtown Lewistown are changing.

“This kind of stuff is contagious,” Kirkland said.

Tunall said he has spoken with other chambers throughout Pennsylvania and nothing like what is happening in Lewistown is going on anywhere else.

Kirkland said he and Lewistown Mayor Deb Bargo, along with Friends of the Embassy President Paul Fagley, researched the different theaters before finally settling on the design.

Bargo said it’s unique that Lewistown had so many theaters at one time.

“It’s important to embrace our heritage,” she added.

Tunall said when the mural is completed he plans to start a Lewistown Mural Tour for people to learn the history behind each one of the murals.

Kirkland said if the weather cooperates he can finish the mural in three weeks.