Restoring a one-of-a-kind Civil War mural

Now owned by the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, the post is being renovated to include a significant Civil War-era collection and display.

Eastport’s Civil War veterans had good reason for naming their Grand Army of the Republic post after Major General George G. Meade. Not only had he commanded the successful Union troops at the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed in Eastport after war to curb the Fenian Rebellion, an Irish liberation attempt that had organized in the United States and conducted raids in neighboring Canada.

During his time in Eastport, he caught pneumonia and nearly died, and some residents got to know him first-hand. One – the wife of the owner of the house where he was staying – complained bitterly for years afterward about his poor aim in spitting tobacco juice all over her home. Let’s hope he was better with a firearm.

The local post wasn’t the only one named in his honor, by the way, and the organization itself became a powerful force within the Republican Party, helping to elect at least four its members to the White House and pressing for progressive legislation.

In 1881, the local post took over a two-story frame structure at 6 Green Street as its meeting hall. As its membership – limited to Union veterans of the Civil War – died off, the building passed to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars for its post. The building next door included a bowling alley, roller skating rink, and dance hall all fondly recalled by youths of the time.

Nobody knew these were overhead.

The murals and ceiling were long hidden by a dropped ceiling and rediscovered only shortly before 2014, when the building was gifted to the Tides Institute and Museum of Art.

The mural runs the length of the roughly 40-by-25-foot room and includes images of eight Army corps badges.

Tony Castro of New Gloucester, Maine, has been renovating the murals. Despite severe water damage, they may be the only surviving interior of their kind in the state.

The patch at upper right shows how this section looked before its restoration.

The Tides Institute has also been gifted with important Civil War artifacts and documents, which may be displayed as the museum adds gallery space.

A sign from the hall’s later use as a Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

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