The Visitors Bureau of Highland County held a reception Thursday to thank local businesses and individuals for their contributions to the Highland County Administration Building Mural.
Tom Horst, board president of the visitors bureau and former county commissioner, was the driving force behind the mural, and he welcomed guests at the outdoor reception, discussing the origins of the idea and particularly noting what he said was the quality of the work provided by the mural’s artist, Jason Morgan.
The mural, produced to appear as though it is a stone engraving, highlights historical sites in each of the incorporated villages and cities within the county, including Highland, Lynchburg, Mowrystown, Leesburg, Hillsboro, Sinking Spring and Greenfield. Featured sites are:
• Village of Highland — Established in 1816, Highland just celebrated its bicentennial last year.
• Lynchburg Covered Bridge — One of the few covered bridges left standing in southern Ohio and connects Highland and Clinton counties. It can be visited year round during daylight hours.
• Mowrystown Post Office — One of the oldest buildings in the village, the post office is still in operation today to serve the public’s postal needs.
• Leesburg Veterans Memorial Park — This small downtown park in Leesburg pays tribute to Highland County Veterans and offers green space at the town’s main intersection. Visitors are welcome during daylight hours.
• Highland County Courthouse — This picturesque building is the oldest courthouse still in use in Ohio. Located at the intersection of Main and High Streets in uptown Hillsboro, this building has served as the courthouse since its opening in 1834.
• Octagonal Schoolhouse — On the public square in Sinking Spring, this building has been in constant use since it was built in 1831 and is now used for town meetings and historical tours.
• Edward Lee McClain High School — The cornerstone for this historic school was laid in 1914 due to the generosity of philanthropist Edward Lee McClain. Located in downtown Greenfield, the school houses a fine collection of classical artwork.
Guests were given the opportunity to meet and greet Morgan, the artist. Morgan, who arrived at Thursday’s reception on a motorcycle, moved from Texas to Yellow Springs, Ohio with his family in 2005. After 10 years spent working as a graphic artist, he has painted professionally for the past 12 years.
His primary focus as a fine artist has been on portraiture, contemporary still life and large-scale mural work, including outdoor murals in Wilmington, Yellow Springs, Springfield and now Hillsboro, Ohio. He is largely self-taught and draws inspiration from Rembrandt, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Maxfield Parish, and N.C. Wyeth.
Horst said in a press release, “Jason did an absolutely fantastic job on this project. I had a vision for this mural for quite some time, and Jason was able to take the photographs I pieced together and create a beautiful piece of work that Highland County can be proud to display. Please come by 119 Governor Foraker Place, Hillsboro, behind the courthouse and check it out for yourself.”
“I’m excited to work with the Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission and the Appalachian Ohio Geospatial Data Partnership to showcase the Highland County Administration Building Mural as part of the Appalachian Ohio Mural Map Story,” said Destiny Bryson, executive director of the visitors bureau. “We have a great story to tell here in Highland County, and what a great way to attract visitors to our county to learn about our rich history.”
Bryson said, “The AOGDP began this collaborative tourism project for our region in early 2016. The idea is to create a map of all the story and wall murals that showcase the history of the Appalachian Ohio region. This 32-county region spans from Ohio’s southwest corner all the way up to its northeast corner, following the Ohio River. From Portsmouth to Ashtabula, there are murals painted on walls, buildings and historic structures that help define and tell the story of a person, event or feature in time of Appalachia.”
The project is in the initial stage of collecting murals to display on the interactive map. A sample of what is to come can be viewed at http://www.geospatialpartnership.org/mural-story-map.
Anyone who would like to submit an idea for a mural project can contact Bryson at [email protected].
Those who contributed to the mural’s success and were invited to attend Thursday’s reception were: Jason Morgan, artist; Visitors Bureau of Highland County board members; Highland County Commissioners; Merchants National Bank; Jerry Haag Motors; Bagshaw Enterprises Inc.; Wilmington Savings Bank; Tim and Sonja Priest; John and Micki Russell; Carl and Marsha Hannah; Rick and Sue Priest; Mike and Pam Priest; Karl and Debbie Pandorff; Dr. Ron Zile; Lewis Financial Group; Tom and Maggie Horst; Heskett Insurance; Tim and Deborah Koehl; Weller’s Plumbing and Heating; Bear Mechanical; Donald E. Fender Realtors; Don and Ann Fender; First State Bank.
Background information for this article was supplied in a press release from the Visitors Bureau of Highland County.