Fishweir Elementary gets approval for mosaic mural

Fishweir Elementary gets approval for mosaic mural
Rendering of a portion of the mural intended for the front lawn at Fishweir Elementary School.

When members of the Fishweir Elementary School PTA got together to brainstorm ways to commemorate the school’s 100th anniversary, the idea they generated will be a lasting legacy from the students.

“Friends and family members thought it would be nice if we did something to further beautify the front of the school along Herschel Street, given it is such a cornerstone of the community,” said project organizer Corina Rice, whose son, Ethan, is a second-grade student.

The Jacksonville Historic Planning Commission granted a certificate of appropriateness for a mosaic mural to be created on a retaining wall on the front lawn of Fishweir Elementary School. The wall is not part of the original structure, but was an addition in the early 1950s.

The mural project is part of the school’s Centennial Celebration, and will depict a river flowing with fish, which will be created by students out of glazed clay. Various materials will be used give the appearance of an underwater scene, such as glass beads, marbles, mirror, shells, and stones which will be interspersed throughout.

The Mural Team, consisting of Rice, Tanya Hardaker and her mother-in-law, Joy Hardaker, are working on a budget and have applied for a grant from Lowe’s to offset the cost. 

“In the meantime, we are accepting donations from the community in the form of materials (e.g., glass, tile, mirror, glass beads, marbles, etc.),” said Rice. People can email me (at [email protected]) if they are interested in donating materials or time.”

The school’s new art teacher, Marie Escribas, will lead the children and volunteers to create and install the pieces. Two “friends of Fishweir” already volunteering their time for the project include retired art teachers and local artists Helen Meatte, who will be assisting with the hands-on work with the children, and Kate Rouh, who is consulting with the team on materials, approach, etc. Rouh’s mosaics, among them the Southbank Riverwalk mural under the Main Street Bridge, are well-known throughout Jacksonville.

The school has had many expansions since its 1916 beginnings. Ten years after it was established as Public School No. 20, an addition designed by well-known architect Henry John Klutho gave the schoolhouse two more rooms. Five more expansions were done during a 22-year period ending in 1950 with four new rooms at the front of the school.

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