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St. Mary's Bank's mural finds a new home at genealogy society

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 05. 2013 10:32PM

Stephen Garczynski views the mural depicting French heritage Thursday. (Mark Hayward/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Researchers who pore through centuries-old genealogical records at the American-Canadian Genealogical Society will have some artistic inspiration now that a mural depicting early Franco settlement in New Hampshire graces the organization's library.

On Thursday, the genealogical society held a reception to highlight the installation of the mural, which hung in the lobby of the old St. Mary's Bank headquarters for the last 43 years. Earlier this year, the credit union said it had no space for the mural in its new headquarters and sought a new spot for it.

"It really looks the part," said Gerard Sevard, the president of the 1,500-member genealogical society. "It enriches the research atmosphere at the library."

The work depicts Samuel de Champlain's contact with Native Americans and early settlers on the banks of the Merrimack River. Its text is French, reflecting the cultural heritage of the credit union's largely French-speaking West Side community.

Its installation in the genealogical society was completed several months ago.

St. Mary's Bank ended up donating the mural to the Manchester Historic Association, said Aurore Eaton, executive director of the historic association. But the historic association lacked a space to display the 18-foot-long, 5-foot-high mural.

The genealogical society agreed to take possession of the mural as a long-term loan, and St. Mary's Bank funded the removal and installation, Eaton said.

The mural was designed by architect Sherman H. Jones in 1969 to decorate the lobby of the new St. Mary's Bank building. We do not know the name of the artist who actually fabricated the piece.

The genealogical society is located in the former Blessed Sacrament school building at 4 Elm St. The mural hangs in the second floor, where the research library is located.

Eaton said the depictions are made of fiberglass, which is pushed out like a bas-relief sculpture. Sevard said a few maps of Quebec were removed to make way for the mural. It has become the focal point of the room that mostly contains books and computer databases, he said.

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