Public art advocate Franc Palaia has not only saved Dutchess County's largest mural but has revived it as well. Poughkeepsie's 45 feet tall and 75 feet wide Garden Street Mural is a highlight of Palaia's Guided Walking Tour of Public Art in Poughkeepsie.
In 1990, Ed Loedy’s nondescript stucco wall of his three story building was transformed by muralist Johan Bjurman into into four simulated building facades. Each section was painted with different architectural style, color, and turn-of-the-century details. Including a circular balcony, pillars, geometric brickwork reliefs, peaks, a ribbed copper roof with a greenish patina, a round stained glass window, an angled cornice and painted lettering in the storefront windows of a bakery, a law firm, and a café.
Mr. Loedy designed the mural in a Trompe L’oeil style, which in French means, to “fool the eye.” The mural adds 15 windows to the building—which are difficult to distinguish from the real ones.
For many years most passersby never even realized the mural was there because the realistically rendered architectural details were so convincing.
As time passed the mural eventually faded and became less noticeable. In 2015, Palaia found out that the was to be mural stuccoed over—turning the illusionary mural into a flat, grey wall.
Soon after hearing this news, he immediately collected 100 signatures to save the mural. He presented the petition to the building’s owner and also informed him of the city’s Façade grant program that reimburses owners for exterior facade repairs and renovations by 50 percent. The owner was surprised that anyone cared about the mural, and was not aware of the Façade grant. Palaia also proposed that he could restore the mural, close to what it originally looked like in 1990. After a month, Palaia repainted the mural to its original color and design. It can be seen on 27 Garden Street in Poughkeepsie.