Greene County students paint massive mural on old hatchery wall
By Brandon Hurley
An idea hatched from a passion for public art.
The Greene County High School recently commissioned one of Jefferson’s newest murals last month, beautifying the exterior wall of the old chick hatchery on the east side of Highway 4, just south of the overpass.
Though the process may have seemed like a quick one – the students completed the painting in roughly two week’s time – it was quite the undertaking. The students had to first – before any actual painting took place – scrape off all the old paint from the wall. They could not use a power washer because the area didn’t contain water no electricity.
The students spent one class period per day – roughly 45 minutes – near the tail end of the year working on their masterpiece.
The building – the former Jefferson Chick Hatchery – was the ideal spot for Greene County’s latest art project, which now boasts pieces all across the county. Greene County art teacher Sarah Stott thought the location and visibility was just right.
“It was a good size and was something we could (get down) in a short amount of time,” the teacher said. “When you come into town, it’s the first thing you would see, instead of coming into town and probably not really paying the building any attention.”
The building, adjacent to the now defunct Dairy Queen, was uninhabited and run down, with chipped paint all over. Now, the structure is prominently featured with a colorful piece of artwork created by a crop of talented students.
The eight brown and white chickens are a nod to the building’s long history - a past which includes a former chicken egg hatchery in the 1940s and 1930s as well as an adjacent building next door known as Elm Street Grocery, which likely sold, you guessed it – chicken eggs and meat.
The chicken design was an easy choice.
“I thought that would be a fun thing using big faces, to see chickens looking at you when you come into town,” Stott said. “It (should) pull people’s attention to our town.”
The current owner of the old building was immediately receptive as well. He didn’t have an issue with the students bringing new life to the historical feature.
He even called Stott midway through the painting to let them know how impressed he was.
“He said ‘wow, that looks really cool,’” Stott said. “He was liking it, and that is good.”
The group of students photoshopped several pictures of chickens together and used that as a reference for their painting. Though many students had never painted a piece so large in structure, Stott was pleased with the end result.
The school allowed the art program to purchase $350 worth of paint for their livestock feature. With hopeful success from future fundraisers, the local art department will likel be able to do something similar. Donations can be mailed to the school or dropped off at the office.
The 2022 mural is a way for Greene County art students to leave their mark on the community, Stott said.
“What better way to leave a legacy, something that everyone can enjoy, and it should hopefully last for a long time,” Stott said. “I think that’s pretty cool. They can drive by it and say ‘I did that.”