Just one year after the project's ground-breaking in August of 2011, Tamaqua's recently re-opened Liberty Hall building received some final brush strokes last week from local artist and muralist Michael Pyrdsa.
In fitting antique fashion, the local painter was contacted to design and hand paint the building's original name on it's two-story west wall at 420 East Broad Street.
"It's rare to see a business sign or even a public art piece that is painted entirely by hand, and they can sometimes even be overlooked at first glance," Pyrdsa said. "But, hand painted signs and graphics do have a certain genuine quality that makes them very intriguing. Even if the design is simple, there is a subtle element that often strikes a comforting, authentic chord. Regardless of the specific craft, I think the focus on this hand-crafted, uniquely artistic quality is what makes historic restorations like this one especially noteworthy."
In the early 1900s, Liberty Hall was a center of community entertainment, sporting events, and social gatherings. Later on, various industrial and commercial activities made use of the 18,000 square-foot building located at the east end of the downtown business area and now included in the borough's historic district.
The painted wall is visible from Route 209 running through Tamaqua and can be seen to the southeast when passing by the post office on Broad Street.
"As an artist, it's always a pleasure to paint something that adds a unique element to the public space and that you know will be seen every day by a number of people," Pyrdsa added. "It's a real bonus when the artwork is part of a larger project like this one, something adding vitality to the community on many levels."
The abandoned building, also known through the years as the home of Sprite Manufacturing, Singer, Aikens Building and Supply, Wink Liberty Pontiac, Morgan's, and an archery range, was secured for preservation by the Tamaqua Area Community Partnership in 2009. In 2011, Alliance for Building Communities of Allentown purchased the site and began renovations on what is now the 12-unit Liberty Hall Apartment Building.
Additional images of the painting project and more information on Pyrdsa's murals and studio art can be found on the artist's personal website at MichaelPyrdsa.com.
Pyrdsa has been painting out of his private Schuylkill County studio in Hometown for the past 24 years. With over 40 years experience as a fine artist, his contemporary realist oil paintings have been featured in collections from California to New York City and exhibited in major east coast art galleries from Maine to Florida. Completing select private murals over the years, he was formally accepted as an artist with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program in 2010 and has most recently been involved with a number of local outdoor art projects.