Volunteers armed with paintbrushes give Greencastle murals some TLC

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

Thousands of people ride through the railroad underpass on West Baltimore Street in Greencastle every day. For years, they’ve seen deteriorating murals on both sides of the road.

This week, drivers are honking their horns and giving thumbs-up to volunteers who’ve picked up paintbrushes to restore the community art.

They hope to have at least the north side done for Old Home Week, which begins Saturday, Aug. 6. During the 41st triennial celebration people can walk down and “see it coming alive,” said Jan Shafer, a member of Greencastle Borough Council who serves on the board of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

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“It’s a shame it wasn’t being taken care of,” said Shafer, who took the lead the project. “People said they missed it and it would be great to have it done for Old Home Week. I thought so, too.”

Volunteers got to work restoring one of the railroad underpass murals in Greencastle Monday morning, Aug. 1.

The original murals were painted in time for Old Home Week in 2004, with the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce spearheading the beautification project, according to Dana Given, executive director of the chamber at the time.

They were funded by then-Mayor Robert “Red” Pensinger, who died in 2007, and his wife, Nancy. In honor of their donation, the artist included a likeness of their dog on the north mural, close to their names.

Jan Shafer, left, spearheaded the restoration of the murals at the railroad underpass in Greencastle. She is shown with Robin Rock, whose parents, Nancy Pensinger and the late Robert ‘Red’ Pensinger, Greencastle mayor at the time, funded the original mural in 2004.

Their daughter, Robin Rock, and her husband, Greg, stopped by Monday morning.

“It makes me want to cry … the memories and what Greencastle meant to my dad,” Robin Rock said. “I wanted it done, but it took Jan to get it moving.”

Mary Fedorka designed and painted the murals in 2004 and returned in 2010 to restore them. Fedorka was contacted earlier this summer, but no longer lives in the area so Shafer sought volunteers.

It’s been hard to tell as they’ve gone down hill over the years, but the south side mural features a train approaching the High Line Train Station and the north one depicts a large locomotive. There also are people in old-fashioned clothes with flowers accenting the panorama.

There’s a picnic scene inside a large circle on one mural. On the outside of the circle, it says “1902 Welcome 2004 Greencastle, PA.” On the inside, is the phrase “Our branches our worldwide but our roots are in Greencastle.”

McConnellsburg residents Charles Harr of Charlie’s Art and Soul and his daughter, Avrie, did some of the finer detail work to restore a mural at the railroad underpass in Greencastle.

Charles Harr of Charlie’s and Soul and his daughter Avrie, a student at McConnellsburg High School, brought their fine arts skills over the mountain and were doing the detail work on the circle and words Monday.

Information about the project was posted on What’s Going on in Greencastle and the Greencastle-Antrim School District Facebook pages and volunteers “started coming out of the woodwork,” Shafer said.

Someone kept tagging Charles Harr on Facebook and he thought, “Heck, yeah.”

“We love doing stuff for the community,” Harr said, noting there also is mural work being done in Fulton County and they paint a lot of barn quilts, too.

“I like to do art, too, and always come along when he asks me because I enjoy it,” Avrie said.

Ron Shafer, whose wife, Jan, took the lead in the Greencastle mural restoration project, held a ladder for Greencastle-Antrim High School student Julie Needham.

Two Greencastle-Antrim High School students who enjoy art, Grace Rowan and Julie Needham, were among Monday’s volunteers.

Greencastle-Antrim High School student Grace Rowan volunteered to help in the Greencastle mural restoration project.

“I love to paint,” said Carranda Barkdoll of Greencastle, who noted she’s painted for Clarissa’s School of Performing Arts performances for years.

“I came to offer my support for Old Home Week. What’s cooler than Old Home Week?” she asked.

Carranda Barkdoll of Greencastle loves to paint and wanted to be part of getting the community’s murals looking good again for Old Home Week.

“My vocation is nursing. My avocation is art,” said Barkdoll, who is coordinator for the nursing programs at Penn State Mont Alto.

Cristen Statler of Mont Alto added ‘2022’ to the dates on the mural on the northside of the railroad underpass in Greencastle. The original mural was done in 2004 previously restored in 2010.

Also on hand was Cristen Statler who lives in Mont Alto, is a cartoon artist and waitresses at TA Truck Stop in Greencastle. She added “2022” to the dates “2004” and “2010” on the north mural.

“I love painting and volunteering,” said Carly Ashway of Lemasters.

Carly Ashway of Lemasters loves painting and volunteering so she wanted to help restore the murals at the railroad underpass in Greencastle.

This was a good opportunity to combine the two “especially since I have a bum leg,” Ashway said. She was up and around after knee surgery six weeks ago, but sported a large black leg brace and had crutches laying nearby.

More volunteers are welcome, but need to sign a liability waiver and should call Shafer at 717-643-0767 for more information.

The restoration is being funded by a donor who wants to remain anonymous. There has been other support for the project — Greencastle’s public works department pressure-washed the mural and Daryl Reese at Lumber Direct helped pick out colors and loaned supplies.

Once the painting is done, the goal is to apply sealant so the murals last longer, Shafer said.

Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at