by MARLA TONCRAY
Sometimes, there are stories that are best “written” with pictures.
This story about the recreation of the Masonic murals inside the Cox building is one of those times.
Before time, neglect and a fire took their toll, the murals in the Cox building where bold and vibrant in color and held a sacred meaning to the Masonic Lodge organization and its traditions.
Research on the murals has been led by a team of artists with Oppenheimer Art Recovery of Chicago. The artists first arrived in Maysville in December 2010, to evaluate whether or not the walls the murals were painted on could be saved. Unfortunately, the decision was rendered there was no way to save the original artwork, and the year-long process began to recreate the murals. The process has involved extensive research about the Masonic organization itself, said Geoff Smalley of Oppenheimer, and traditional Masonic icons like the hourglass, beehive and Maltese cross. These icons were known to be part of the mural artwork in the Cox building, as documented by photographs, Geoff said.
The Blue Lodge Room is the first to have its murals recreated. This room was the primary meeting room of the Masons, according to research, with the larger third floor room, known as the Asylum Room used for other purposes.
The Blue Lodge Room measures 40 feet by 50 feet; the Asylum Room measures 40 feet by 73 feet.
In the Blue Lodge Room, there is a main mural on the eastern wall representing the ascension of learning the Masonic principles, and four cartouche murals on the ceiling where the cove molding joins the room’s walls to the ceiling. Each cartouche features a decorative pattern with a Masonic icon in the center. There will also be a star-shaped medallion painted in the center to serve as an accent to the chandelier.
In the Asylum Room, the 17 1/2 foot by 40 foot mural depicting two Knights Templar will be recreated, along with a mural featuring a crown and cross in the center of the ceiling and two side panel murals flanking the center mural.
Geoff is joined on the project by Scott Ament, a Chicago muralist contracted by Oppenheimer for the project. The project is expected to be completed in August, with a dedication of the building tentatively scheduled for early September.