The Starkville Central Neighborhood Foundation, a group of citizens dedicated to celebrating and preserving Starkville’s historic districts, is painting neighborhood crests on street intersections to enhance community identity.
According to Joe Fratesi, a member of the SCNF, the road mural painting project is a way for citizens to better the communities they live in.
“It was just the whole idea of those of us that lived in the central neighborhoods around town. We just love the neighborhoods that we live in, and so we’re trying to find ways that we can give back,” Fratesi said.
Founded in 2004, the SCNF focuses on three core values: advocacy, appearance and activities.
An initiative arising from the appearance facet of the group’s purpose, the street icon painting project has both historical and aesthetic value. The icon, or neighborhood crest, that provides the design for the street art is also displayed on street signs in the district due to a previous project by the SCNF.
“Each of the districts has its own icon. It’s that idea of place based art, they took something that’s here in the neighborhood and created this cool little icon that we put on the signs and we said, ‘Hey, let’s use that icon that’s on the signs and put them here at the intersection,” Fratesi said.
The group is currently working on their project in the Greensboro Street Historic District, which serves several purposes, Fratesi said.
“It creates a sense of identity for the neighborhood but also, there are so many students that go over here to school at Armstrong and they’re always walking through here and our hope is that by having stuff like this out here people might slow down,” Fratesi said.
Jeremy Murdock, another SCNF member and participant in the painting project, said the project will also help draw more support for the SCNF.
“We played around with being a lot more formal with the organization but we were like ‘Look, we just need to do some things, we’re just going to take some action, do some stuff. People will see that we’re serious, then jump on board,’” Murdock said. “We just want to prove (to) ourselves that we weren’t just talking, and we’re actually going to take some actions.”
Fratesi said the painting project is just the beginning of all the group hopes to accomplish.
“This is just the first of a lot of things we hope to do. This is just where we’ve got to start though ... we wanted to start with something we knew we could do and we could tackle it and it’s something that we could see,” Fratesi said.
In the past, The SCNF has hosted community events such as “Movies on the Green” and a 10k race; they hope to provide events such as these in the future in order to bring neighbors and community members together.
Laura Dunn, a SCNF member and participant in the street mural project, said the effort put into the SNCF’s projects is integral for the preservation of Starkville’s historic districts.
“People are trying to buy these properties and tear them down and build big new things, which is great in some aspects, but also if people don’t realize how important these historical districts are, then they’re going to go away,” Dunn said. “So, if we value them, if we put more time and effort and care into them they’ll stay around longer and people will appreciate them more”
Families are not the only ones the SCNF serves; MSU students are an important part of these historic neighborhoods and the community too, Fratesi said.
“It’s not just people that are full time residents, students, anyone that appreciates being in the historic district and in the central neighborhood—there’s something special about living in the central neighborhood close to town,” Fratesi said. “I love all parts of our city, but most of us have lived a whole lot of different places and have chosen to live here.”