Murals of Charles Island in the 1800s being restored
Murals that once decorated the Pier II Restaurant on Naugatuck Avenue are being restored as part of a city mural project.
Four of the murals depicted Charles Island and the Island House in the 1800s. When the restaurant was demolished several years ago, the murals were saved and stored.
Recently taken out of storage with help of the city's Public Works Department, the murals are being cleaned by members of the Milford Art Council's Permanent Art Collection Committee.
“We are beginning by cleaning the two murals that show the main part of the Island,” said Milford Art Council Executive Director Paige Miglio. “We will then need to make some art repairs, cut the panels from their wall studs and frame them, so that they can be hung in the City's Permanent Art Collection at Parson's Government Center.”
“The cleaning, repair and hanging of these murals,” continued Miglio, “are part of the Milford Art Council's efforts to celebrate our historic artwork. The work on the Charles Island murals joins our Adopt a Mural Campaign to raise funds to restore the WPA mural They Shall Pass This Way But Once.”
The murals, painted by artist Bill Meddick based on a 1830s engraving of the Island House as a hotel, depict the summer residence built in 1835 by John Harris, a millionaire merchant from New York. The 2.5-story mansion featured more then 35 rooms. Located in the center of the island, with verandahs that wrapped both stories, it was surrounded by shade trees and flower gardens.
In 1861, the new owners, the Pritchard family, converted the mansion into a summer hotel resort, adding several amenities, including a dining room, a dance pavilion, and bowling alleys. Daily excursion steamers from New Haven and Bridgeport brought guests to the Island House Hotel, which became a favorite summer resort for more than 15 years before it was abandoned.
Meddick, a professional regional artist, was the executive director of the Milford Arts Council from 1982 to 2012. Meddick began his art studies at Silvermine Art School, followed by studies at Pratt Institute, New York.
In the late 1970s, as the Milford schools' artist-in-residence, Meddick painted a series of oils of the Milford schools, featuring both buildings and students. Meddick has had several one-man shows of his work, including exhibitions at the Slater Museum in Norwich, Kershner Gallery in Fairfield, Gallery in the Woods in South Windsor and the Manhattan Athletic Club-George Billis Gallery in New York City.