Orange celebrates new murals, benches and accessible picnic tables

  • Murals by local artist Susan Marshall adorn the side of Pizza Factory on West Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Local artist Susan Marshall with one of the murals she painted for the town of Orange, this one on the side of the Millers River Primary Care building on East Main Street. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Alec Wade, community development director in Orange, welcomes guests to the new public dining area in the center of Orange as one of several pedestrian-friendly projects in town. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Alec Wade, community development director in Orange, welcomes guests to the new public dining area in the center of Orange with a mural by local artist Susan Marshall on the side of Pizza Factory behind him. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The new public dining area in the center of Orange is one of several pedestrian-friendly projects in town. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/17/2022 5:10:48 PM
Modified: 6/17/2022 5:10:37 PM

ORANGE — Through a pandemic-delayed grant process matched by donations, downtown Orange has some new splashes of color.

The town celebrated the installation of two new murals — one at Pizza Factory and the other on the Millers River Primary Care building — on Thursday as part of its “Activating Downtown Orange” initiative. The town also purchased benches and accessible picnic tables to encourage residents to relax downtown and eat food from the local restaurants.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said Orange Community Development Director Alec Wade. “We’ve activated some of these spaces that people might not otherwise enjoy.”

Both murals were painted and designed by local artist Susan Marshall. Each painting was blown up by Lyman Signs and attached to large metal plates to ensure they can withstand New England weather. The Pizza Factory mural, titled “The Friendly Town: We Are All a Part of a Whole,” depicts a busy restaurant scene with several smaller murals around it showing the ingredients used to make pizza. The mural on the Millers River Primary Care building, titled “Welcome to Orange: Where Dreams Take Flight,” depicts the town’s aviation character, with skydivers and planes scattered about in the air.

“We are all part of a whole, whether it’s a pizza, a committee, a town or the world,” Marshall said when asked about her inspiration for the pieces, which celebrate “inclusivity and diversity.”

The town held a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday in the parking lot outside Trail Head Outfitters and General Store, and set up the newly acquired tables and benches so attendees could sit. Wade said the picnic tables will be mobilized for town events and will often be seen at town parks to draw more people outdoors.

The project was funded through a MassDevelopment Commonwealth Places grant, which provided 50% of the money and required the town to foot the other half. Wade said the grant process began in January 2020 and the town held several crowdfunding campaigns — that were halted during the pandemic so residents could weather the difficult economic conditions.

“Despite COVID-19, businesses and residents were willing to put their cash on the table,” Wade said, adding that this was truly a “collaborative project.” “It makes a more beautiful and accessible Orange for everybody.”

Wade credited Planning Board Chair Mercedes Clingerman for her dedication throughout the project.

“I really give her all the credit in the world” for her work, Wade added.

“The community came together,” Clingerman said. “This belongs to you.”

Wade also said artists like Marshall “bring a lot to the community” and he is hopeful these murals inspire other projects in Orange.

In brief remarks, Selectboard member Andrew Smith said “good things come to people who work hard and have patience,” and this is just one of many projects the town has in the pipeline.

“The key word right now for Orange is patience,” he said. “We have a couple other projects coming up. … I want to thank Alec, who is an unsung hero for this town.”

Marshall said the extended wait for the project to be completed made the feeling even sweeter when she saw her murals on the buildings. She said it was also nice for the town to have some good news after suspected arson destroyed the former cereal factory and damaged adjacent buildings on West River Street nearly two weeks ago.

“It’s really great,” Marshall said of seeing the plan through to completion. “Especially after what we had happen.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.


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