January 21, 2015

While driving down Market Street, you may notice new artwork that shares a meaningful look into local history.


This week, New College Institute (NCI) installed three outdoor murals on the Market Street side of NCI’s new building, which is located on the Dana O. Baldwin Block. Artist Amanda Honore’ Donley and representatives of NCI consulted with staff and board members of the Fayette Area Historical Initiative (FAHI) who recalled the vibrant African American community that inhabited the Baldwin Block during the early 1900s. Their guidance provided inspiration for the project. The murals, called the Baldwin Block canvases, depict a streetscape view of buildings and places significant to the history of this location and the culture, including the Baldwin Pharmacy, Jobbers Pants Co., and Saint Mary’s Hospital among others.


“New College Institute and its partners should be proud of the success of this project and their collective efforts to recognize and commemorate the importance of Dr. Dana Baldwin, the Baldwin Block, and the Fayette Street Historic District to the history of Martinsville and the Commonwealth,” said Roger W. Kirchen, director, Review and Compliance Division of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.


Barbara Matthews, a local philanthropist and native of Martinsville, generously provided funding for this project. “New College Institute has built a spectacular new building to bring opportunity to our community, and it is important as we look to a bright future that we honor a history that also brought education and promise to the citizens of Martinsville and Henry County,” said Matthews.   


If you would like to take a closer look at the artwork, NCI welcomes you to enjoy the space and utilize seating areas installed around each of the three murals.

“New College Institute is honored to be a part of preserving history so that our students and future generations can appreciate the past while carrying on efforts to make our future brighter,” said Debbie Lewis, NCF Development Officer.


“The Fayette Area Historic Initiative (FAHI) is pleased to welcome these works of art depicting the history and flavor of the Fayette Street Corridor and Baldwin block.  FAHI is honored to have been a significant reference of information displayed within these murals and look forward to continuing our relationship with New College Institute,” added Chauncey Adams, executive director of FAHI.


The artist, Donley, is a third generation artist who was born and raised in San Diego, California. She studied art at San Diego Mesa College before moving to Southern Virginia. Her mother and father were originally from Martinsville-Henry County. Donley owned and operated Rose Window Studio in Martinsville for 25 years before relocating her art gallery to Woolwine in Patrick County five years ago. She has also taught art and stained glass in many regional institutions including Patrick Henry Community College, where she helped design and implement a certificate program and studio in glasswork as a business.  


“I am excited and humbled to have a part in this project which celebrates a new chapter in the history of the Baldwin Block, while rightfully footnoting and honoring important  people and enterprises of this block and this city,” said Donley.


NCI will also pay tribute to the heritage of the Baldwin Block through the production of an oral history video to be shown to the public in late February.  Details about this event will be forthcoming. Additionally, inside NCI’s new building is a “living history wall” with photographs, newspaper articles, and memorabilia telling the story of Dr. Dana O. Baldwin and his impact on the community. Visitors are welcome to the new building to view the wall and learn more about the Baldwin Block’s rich history. 


Also covered by the following media: 

Martinsville Bulletin