SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – An unassuming lot in downtown Springfield is bringing the city’s past into the future.
Recently, a committee of stakeholders unveiled a mural depicting an iconic 1927 cover of LIFE Magazine drawn by C. Coles Phillips. The artist was born in Springfield in 1880 and lived there until pursuing a career illustrating magazine covers in New York. He was best known for his signature “Fadeaway Girl,” an effect in which the background color is the same as the subject’s clothing.
Phillips is among a number of Springfield-born artists, now receiving a public art homages throughout the city.
“It’s looking at the assets you have as a community and using those assets. The assets that we have is… a rich, rich history,” said Kevin Rose, the director of revitalization at the Turner Foundation.
A committee of community stakeholders, including the Turner Foundation, Chamber of Greater Springfield, the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Springfield Foundation and Project Jericho installed the Phillips mural on the south wall of the Pappas building on Fountain Avenue near Columbia Street.
The art installation is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the city’s downtown, as well as use the region’s history to attract visitors.
“We’re past the point of thinking that tourism is only in places like New York City, Washington, D.C. or Chicago,” Rose said. “We realize that tourism is really, really big here in Springfield.”
Aside from tourists, those who currently live in Springfield said they appreciate the investment.
“I would really love to see artwork all over town instead of crumbling buildings,” said Springfield resident Craig Vance.
The city is also investing in infrastructure, planning to break ground on a retail and parking garage project in spring 2019, directly across from the Phillips mural on Fountain Avenue.
The Turner Foundation also hopes to acquire a vacant lot south of the Pappas building and turn it into an outdoor dining and green space.
Residents said they hope the revitalization is a sign of things to come.
“Everybody’s coming together as a community and helping Springfield come out as a place to live, instead of just a place to run,” said Vance.