by Amy Pearson
One day the owner of The Fairfield Sun Times, Darryl Flowers was standing near the front of his building on Central Avenue looking at the blank walls in town when it occurred to him that he might have an idea.
Over the span of the last eight years, Flowers had been going home every night after work at the paper to painstakingly use a flatbed scanner to digitize the negatives of photos he’d discovered in old buildings in Fairfield including over 10,000 taken by The Fairfield Times, (which became the Fairfield Sun Times).
Flowers had also discovered photos online of the Fairfield area from the late 1930s taken by Arthur Rothstein with the Farm Security Administration, and photos from other eras through the Library of Congress.
“I had all these pictures,” he says. “I realized that this was Fairfield’s wonderful untapped resource.” In fact, Flowers has amassed approximately 12,000 digitized photos to date.
Flowers brought his idea to The Fairfield Historical Society board where he serves as co-chair; what about creating murals on the empty walls in town based on photographic images of the history of the area?
Luckily, The Fairfield Historical Society includes artist Diane Hausmann who was keen on the idea and up for the challenge. Hausmann brought in an additional Teton County artist, Shelly Walker, and the two have completed two murals thus far.
They painted the first mural on the front of the Sun Times building based on a Rothstein image from 1938 of Fred Schoensigel who was the founder of The Simms Enterprise and The Fairfield Times.
“This gets something visual out there,” Flowers notes. “The goal is to support the history of the community and to bring it to life.”
The second mural completed by Hausmann and Walker is based on another 1938 Rothstein image of an unidentified “farm girl pumping water at Fairfield Bench farm” with cows in the background.
They painted this mural on the wall of the west side of the Vandolah Chiropractic Clinic on Central Avenue and have nicknamed the woman “Matilda.” The Historical Society is still looking for accurate information regarding the identity of the young woman.
There are plans for the mural project to expand. While there is not a particular number of murals the group hopes to complete, their intention is to finish the project by 2025 in concert with the centennial for the Greenfields Irrigation District which was basically the legal establishment of the water supply to the area.
A special ceremony pertaining to the project will be hosted at the annual Swim Days celebration in July of that year.
The Fairfield Historical Society is looking for other businesses in their area who might want to put an historical mural on their wall. You can also support the project by donating funds, history, or old photographs. In the future, a brochure about the project and walking tour of Fairfield will be available. To support this project or for more information, please call the Sun Times at 406-467-2344 or email email@example.com.