Originally published in the Wilmington News Journal on 8/22/23

WILMINGTON — The recent installation of a historic photo on Main Street has brought a fresh vibrancy to downtown Wilmington. The collaborative effort between the Clinton County History Center, property owner Jason McCarty of BlackCat Development LLC, and local graphic designer Molly Boatman of Molly Boatman Dot Com, has resulted in a captivating display that captures the essence of Wilmington’s rich history.

The inception of the Main Street historic photo installation sprouted from a conversation between McCarty and Shelby Boatman, an individual deeply passionate about preserving local history. Boatman, the executive director of the Clinton County Historical Society, has long nurtured the dream of showcasing the town’s history in an unconventional and engaging manner. The installation aligns with her vision of fostering community pride and highlighting the historical significance of the town’s architecture.

The chosen historic photo dates back to Oct. 27-30, 1914, during Wilmington’s annual Fall Festival. This captivating snapshot depicts the bustling activity of Main Street during that time. The photo was strategically chosen to showcase the town’s vibrant past, offering a unique glimpse into its history. The location where the photographer stood to capture this image coincidentally corresponds to the very spot where the window display has been installed.

Shelby Boatman shared, “Our goal through this installation is to help foster a sense of community pride and encourage historic preservation, while also allowing Jason the opportunity to take as much time as he needs to complete the restoration of his beautiful building.”

The project required collaborative efforts and adherence to historical district regulations. After gaining approval, the high-resolution photo was formatted into two sections to fit the windows perfectly. Minor enhancements were made to accentuate specific areas of the photo, ensuring its suitability for the display.

Captions, such as “Wilmington 100 Years Ago” and “Local History is All Around… You Only Have to Look,” were incorporated beneath each image, guiding pedestrians to explore the town’s history further.