Reynolds breathes life into fading Waterloo Wonders mural

Published 5:00 am Saturday, July 6, 2024

By Joseph DiCristofaro
The Ironton Tribune

The historic “Waterloo Wonders” mural painted on the Ironton floodwall is getting a major restoration this week from Ashland artist Elias Reynolds who specializes in mural art and restorations of the massive art pieces.
The mural inspiration was drawn from the legendary basketball team in Lawrence County that graced the hardwood in the 1930s. The team born out of the midst of the Great Depression rose to Ohio stardom for its feat of winning two state championships back-to-back and compiling a record of 97 wins and three losses.
Despite winning the championship for the first time 90 years ago the team’s impact was left etched upon the floodwall. The mural is believed to have been painted eighty years ago.
“We think it was painted in the 1940’s. Ironton Alive is having me restore it. If it is 80 years old, it held up pretty decent,” Reynolds said. “I can still see where they had everything. I’m just going back over it, filling in colors, and fixing chipped paint.”
Restoring such a large and old mural is no easy feat. But with Reynolds’ skill along with research and studying, the mural will be restored to its former beauty with new additions.
“I try to understand where the original artist painted, and seeing what they did and trying to mimic that but also add my details along the way or that they didn’t add,” Reynolds said.
One feature that Reynolds said he plans to add on to and improve the original artist’s work is the faces of the players.
“The faces in the original look close to the actual people, but up close they didn’t look a lot like them,” Reynolds said. “I’m going to add more detail than was already there and to make it look more like them.”
While the mural still resembled its original state, decades of wear and tear were evident with chunks of the mural being chipped away and starting to deteriorate.
Reynolds has been basing much of his work off of pictures taken of the mural many years ago before it was in a state of disarray along with pictures of the players themselves.
Work on the mural has been underway for several days now. Restoration work on the project is anticipated to be wrapped within one to two weeks.

Email newsletter signup