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1800s mural to be shown to public for first time at former Peaceable Kingdom on Sunday

Credit: Rachael Waring
Credit: Rachael Waring

ANN ARBOR – The owners of the former shop The Peaceable Kingdom have an exciting discovery to share with the community.

On Sunday, they will be opening their doors at 210 S. Main St. from 2 to 4 p.m. to show members of the public a 3x3 foot portion of a mural dating back to 1880 that was recently uncovered in the space. 

Mark Wilfong's mother, Carol Lopez, purchased the property at 210 S. Main St. in 1986, when the building was 100 years old. "She was given a few photos and told about the mural concealed behind the drywall from the original tenant, a German beer hall, or Bierhalle," said Wilfong.

But Lopez was busy running her shop The Peaceable Kingdom, and the mural remained out of view. Until now.  

The mural depicts Gambrinus, a European cultural figure celebrated as the icon of joviality, beer and brewing. He is always depicted wearing a crown and holding a keg and a cup in each of his hands.

"However, our version also includes The Western Brewery, which most think of as the old Argus camera factory on Fourth Street, near Bach School," said Wilfong. "Local historian Grace Shackman wrote about The Western Brewery in her article 'Brewed on Fourth Street.'"

He is also standing on what appears to be the English Lion, which Wilfong thinks might be the reason he was covered up either after WWI or WWII.

Wilfong and his wife Penelope Frenette are in the process of transforming the space, and when they began to carefully remove the drywall, they noticed several holes. 

Credit: Rachael Waring

Wilfong called Parma Conservation of Chicago, who told him to stop removing the drywall immediately. Experts from the group will be coming to restore the mural in April.

He plans to protect the mural with a frame by Small Corp of Massachusetts to hold a large protective piece of acrylic and use Pewabic tile from the same period as a border.

"Pewabic Tile was founded in 1903 and they are waiting to see the restored colors before finalizing a design to border the conserved mural and its protective frame," said Wilfong.

The building still has its historic character intact. From its original wood floors to the intricate metal ceiling, Wilfong and Frenette are creating a new space that pays homage to the identities the building has taken over the years.

They have launched a Kickstarter page to help fund the conservation.

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About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.