Memories on Mercer St

PRINCETON — If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the value of many photos?

On Thursday, March 18, the RiffRaff Arts Collective in conjunction with Holler Contemporary Appalachian Art Gallery will determine that value as they, with public input, will create a mural in the Historic District of Mercer Street depicting scenes from Mercer Street’s history.

Event organizer Lori McKinney from RiffRaff said the event, which will be on Zoom starting at 7 p.m., will be titled “Memories of Mercer Street, Virtual Edition.”

“Anyone with connections to Mercer Street from any time period is invited to join this event. Participants are encouraged to share their favorite memories of downtown,” she said.

According to the event page on Facebook, “Memories on Mercer Street, Virtual Edition” the event will give participants to share their favorite memories of downtown Princeton, as they hear stories from all the chapters of Mercer Street’s history, and discover dynamics of Princeton that might not be readily known.

The event encourages everyone to take a trip down memory lane, and watch those stories come to life in the coming months as this vibrant history becomes a colorful mural in The Historic District.

Veteran muralist Ellen Elmes will be the designer of the mural which is based on photos sent in by past and present residents of Mercer Street. According to her website, Elmes has designed and painted numerous large-scale murals including a recent mural honoring beloved Tazewell Countian Louise Leslie in the newly-restored North Tazewell Train Station in Southwest Virginia as well as the community-painted mural, Tazewell Now & Then, based on drawings by 5th, 8th, and 12th grade students. RiffRaff and Pigment Gallery member Lacey Villandry will be the lead painter, assisted by Rita Montrosse and Richard Shrewsbury of the Holler Gallery.

“Citizens of all ages and skill levels will be encouraged to help paint the mural this spring. We encourage families to join, so that young people can hear the stories of times past, as well as share their own memories of growing up during the downtown renaissance,” McKinney said.

The event, she added, is presented with financial assistance from the WV Division of Culture & History and the National Endowment for the Arts on approval from the West Virginia Council for the Arts.

For more information, go to the RiffRaff Facebook page, the event page, or call 304-320-8833.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at

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