Monday, September 10, 2012




 By Doc Lawrence

STONE MOUNTAIN, GA—With their giant painting of the historic city’s heritage hovering above them, a crowd of good citizens participated in the formal dedication of an impressive mural, proclaimed by Dr. Dan Parker, minister of The First Baptist Church of Stone Mountain as “the incredible beauty that arose from the cooperative energy of people working together for a noble purpose.” Joined by Stone Mountain Mayor Pat Wheeler and city councilwoman Susan Coletti, Parker, who presided over the ceremonies that included congregations of both his church and the United Methodist Church of Stone Mountain, said the mural was the product of “imagination, a deep love for our city, for each other, lots of hard work that is now a permanent example of how art can truly bring people together.”

Dr. Dan Parker Served As Master Of Ceremonies
The dedication ceremonies were preceded by dinner on the grounds after church services, a Southern tradition that harkens to early America according to one prominent nearby resident. Frank Spence, a former top official with the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons and Georgia Special Olympics praised the event: “Where else except in a town like Stone Mountain could we enjoy a bountiful community feast, inspirational choir singing and renewing payer to honor a magnificent painting?”

The mural project began as the idea of community leader Pat Sabattle who joined with councilwoman Susan Coletti to gain the support of city government and the owner of the property for the proposed mural, the Stone Maintain. First Baptist Church. Stone Mountain resident Olivia Thomason, a noted Georgia folk artist whose paintings are in corporate and private collections throughout the country, agreed to design and supervise the project. “When Olivia came on board,” said Ms. Sabatelle, “we had a winning team in place.” Ms. Thomason has created paintings for the Dekalb History Center, the Decatur Arts Festival and other Georgia events and for many years owned The Primitive Eye, a major art gallery in Atlanta’s Dekalb County.

The mural took shape over a period of months, Parker revealed, “in scorching heat, working on a high scaffold, motivated solely by goodwill and love for the city.” The wall with the painting is part of the pavilion and lawn that contains some remarkable history. Although they are no longer there, Riverside Military Academy was once on the grounds, followed by a luxury hotel. At the base of the lawn is a memorial bell honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech where he said, “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.” Another monument documents “Sherman’s Neckties,” part of the Civil War strategy employed by the Union Army to destroy the railroad system of the Confederacy. And in 1864, “The March to The Sea,” began here.

The mural sits high above the historic village buildings, and according to mayor Wheeler has already attracted the attention of visitors. During the day, it can be seen from the top of Stone Mountain and plans are to spotlight it at night for the enjoyment of the throngs of guests during the upcoming holiday season.

The dedication ceremony was part of a month of significant activity in Stone Mountain which included parts of the city used as a set for an upcoming major movie.
One song by the choir seemed to capture the spirit of the ceremonies on a glorious Sunday afternoon in Georgia:

“I’m standing on the rock of ages;
Safe from every storm that rages;
Rich, but not from Satan’s wages.
I’m standing on the solid rock.”

Peter J. Hatch discusses his book, “A Rich Spot of Earth-Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden at Monticello.”


1 comment:

  1. Great article and impressive mural!

    Typo - community leader should be Pat "Sabatelle" not Sabattle