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Next Newport Floodwall Mural to Honor City's Founder, Gen. James Taylor

A large new mural celebrating General James Taylor and his wife, Keturah Moss Leitch Taylor, will soon be added to the floodwall in Newport, the city that he founded.

A series of murals are going up along Dave Cowens Drive to celebrate Newport's 225th anniversary. 

"These beautiful, striking murals are telling the story of Newport," said Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso. "They are a tribute to how far we have come and how much we have accomplished while showcasing the people and periods that define our city. It's an amazing way to tell a tremendous story that we are so very proud of." 

The newly completed mural unveiled Thursday - the first in the series - depicts and honors the students and teachers of the Southgate Street School, an historic African-American school – the only one in Campbell County - that operated from the post-Civil War era until 1955 when Brown vs. Board of Education was decided and Newport desegregated its schools.   

The River City News profiled that mural in July.

Designs for the next series of murals depict General James and Mrs. Taylor, seen in the rendering at the top of this article, as well as bold waves of color that will weave throughout the timeline. 

"These murals represent a visual walk through Newport's rich history," said Newport Historic Preservation Officer Scott Clark. 

The public art project is a collaboration of the City of Newport, Southbank Partners, the Northern Kentucky University Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, Newport Foundation and the Newport History Museum @ The Southgate Street School. The goal of the project is to connect students and the community through publicly informed mural designs that celebrate Newport’s history while lengthening the spectrum of arts and cultural heritage offerings available to the general public. 

Majority funding for the project was provided through a $13,120 grant from the 410, a giving circle of the Horizon Community Funds. Southbank Partners applied for the 410 grant, drawn to the project because of its visibility as it will become part of Riverfront Commons, the nearly 12-mile urban walking and biking path Southbank is developing in Northern Kentucky’s river cities. 

"The emerging philanthropists who participated in our giving circle, The 410, last year committed themselves to community vibrancy," said Horizon Community Funds President Nancy Grayson. "While the giving circle members took charge of the entire process and made the final decision on where to grant their combined $410 gifts, we were excited to see them select such an enduring, celebratory, and engaging project like the mural series in Newport. Unsurprisingly, these leaders have a clear sense of how to make an impact with their giving in Northern Kentucky." 

Donations can also be made by check to the Newport Foundation or through a GoFundMe page.  

Learn more about the murals project by clicking on to this informational website.  

The lead artist on the inaugural Education Empowers mural is Gina Erardi, who recently graduated from NKU with a Bachelor's of Fine Art degree in Painting. She said that Mr. and Mrs. Taylor were prominent figures in Newport and both came into their marriage owning a substantial amount of land in what was to become Campbell County.  

"James Taylor is portrayed as the visionary who worked tirelessly to bring prosperity to this city--he utilized his status to promote and invest in the development of public schools, roads, dams, ferries, and the Newport Barracks, pictured on the riverbank in the design, which was crucial in the vitality of supply chain between the East Coast and the Western Frontier for almost a century," Erardi said. "Keturah was a gracious benefactor to those in need in the community." 

The mural will show the Taylor home in the background , a hilltop estate often referred to as the James Taylor Mansion or 'Belle Vue,' meaning beautiful view. 

"This imagery is intended to capture the values that James Taylor embodied," Erardi said, "a strong vision, steady patience, leadership, and faith in the industry and future of the city that is proudly known today as Newport, Kentucky."  

Clark said Taylor was just 23 years old when he established the town of Newport on land his father received for serving with General George Washington in the Revolutionary War. 

"General Taylor didn't establish a plantation, which is what many settlers did when they came to this part of the country," Clark said. "He was a founder of a town that was designed to develop and attract industry. He was a driven and innovative young man who helped lay out the city, established a ferry to Cincinnati, founded of the first national bank in Kentucky and convinced President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison to move the military barracks at Fort Washington - which is main reason Cincinnati was established - to Newport, which was a major step in the city's growth and prosperity." 

-Staff report

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