Monday a replica of the Seaboard Airline Hotel that once stood in Hamlet will be unveiled after a year and three months of labor from five local artists.
“It was as much about the process as it was about the product,” said Arts Council Executive Director Laura Daskal.
Artists Mindy Schwartz, Larry Hartgrove, Ron Partin, Andrea Haselhoff and Ray Armstrong worked in collaboration for many hours, bringing their diverse talents together to sculpt a Hamlet icon of the past into real life again.
They met once a week, “sometimes more,” said Armstrong. “The more we got done the more we met.”
And yet at first they didn’t know what they’d be working on. They knew what their goal was; to bring a piece of Richmond County history back to life. They spent many hours pouring over old sketches, discussing memories and taking field trips.
“I suggested the Seaboard Airline Hotel,” said Hartgrove. “It took field trips and consensus-building.”
The diorama will be viewable to the public for the first time in a completed state on Monday at the Arts Council on East Washington Street in Rockingham. The doors will open for the “Artist Meet and Greet Open House” at 5:30 p.m. and members of the Hamlet City Council and other organizations have been invited, as well as members of the public.
According to Daskal, visitors will be able to speak to the artists, and will get a chance to view their individual work as well, as they will have other works of art on display, ranging from drawing to jewelry to wood carvings.
The center of focus will be the Seaboard Airline Hotel replica, constructed out of various styles brought to the table by each artist.
“We really brought our different talents together,” said Armstrong. “Roy and Andrea are the pencil artists.”
Armstrong makes miniature replicas of buildings and hand-carved details such as a working bell, a bench and other real-life touches.
“There are hidden secrets, too, personal touches,” said Schwartz. Visitors will be able to see something new every time they look at the diorama, which lights up from the inside.
“We wanted it to be something you’d have to look at once, then again,” said Haselhoff.
“Lots of people came in and said, ‘wow, it looks great,’ and, ‘we can’t wait to see it finished,’” said Schwartz, who put together an information board depicting the history of the hotel, which was built in 1900 and torn down in 1935.
According to Daskal, artifacts recovered from the demolition will also be on display at the viewing.
“This project was funded by Arts Richmond and a grassroots grant through the North Carolina Arts Council,” said Daskal. “The piece will be dedicated at 7 p.m. and will be donated to the City of Hamlet where it will be on permanent display at the Hamlet Visitor’s Center.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.