Winthrop students transform Cherry Road 'eyesore'

American Legion Post 34 was mistaken for 'closed-down factory'

08/09/2011 12:00 AM

08/09/2011 7:59 AM

Harold Jackson has heard stories of people driving by American Legion Post 34 and wondering what was going on inside the building at the corner of Cherry Road and Constitution Avenue.

"They thought it was an old, closed-down factory," the post commander said Monday. "We heard that too many times."

Built in 1949, the post has been expanded twice, and awnings on the front entrance have been taken down - leaving what vice commander Craig Charlton called an "eyesore."

Jackson, Charlton and others asked Winthrop University fine arts students if something could be done about the plain brick wall - something to let the community know the post was there to serve all veterans.

Junior Bryanna Smith and senior Alastair Hutchison stepped up, painting a mural of an American flag and the name "Frank Roach" - the Rock Hill man killed in World War I for whom the post is named - on the wall along Cherry Road.

The student artists were recognized for their contribution to the post on Monday morning, when Jackson showed off their work. The wall also is graced by the post's emblem and the South Carolina flag.

Smith and Hutchison spent several days a week for three weeks - braving heat and Smith's fear of heights - to finish the artwork. They faced some difficulties, with the heat causing paint to bleed through stencils and run, but overall, they were happy with the product.

"We've never had a way to contribute to the military," Smith said. "It felt like I was doing some service to my country."

"It was a chance to get out of our studios and into the world so they can really get to see what we do," Hutchison said. "Painting is one facet of art. There's so much more to it."

Post 34 presented the students with certificates of appreciation and scholarship checks.

Members of Post 34 do a lot of volunteer work for the community and veterans, Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols said. That speaks volumes about the veterans who have who have passed through and upheld the American dream and freedom.

"All of our community is appreciative of that."

See video below.

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