The entrance to the Cambria County Courthouse will soon take on a whole new look.
Not only will visitors be greeted by sheriff’s deputies and security equipment, but a look beyond the modern technology will reveal two murals depicting Cambria County.
Unveiled at the county’s 210th birthday party Wednesday were small models of the murals, which will depict the county’s rural and urban sides.
“This was sort of a surprise, their announcing it today,” said Ron Donoughe, the artist chosen to design and paint the oil-on-canvas murals.
A native of Loretto who spends much of his time in Pittsburgh, Donoughe said he was approached in the fall and asked to develop the mural concept into something workable for the walls of the historic courthouse.
Donoughe was chosen in part at the urging of Cambria County President Judge Timothy Creany, who learned about the artist and his talent through his involvement with the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in Loretto.
The cost of the mural project was not disclosed Wednesday, but the money will come from discretionary funds controlled by the courts.
Creany said the money has been used over the years for countless renovation projects at the courthouse.
“It just plays in very well,” Creany said.
The project will involve two murals, each measuring 18 feet wide by 8 feet in height.
As one enters the courthouse, the mural on the left will depict rural Cambria County while the one on the right will be of urban Johnstown.
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For the rural scene, Donoughe chose a mown farm field with a grove of trees. Fall is the time of year and the setting is just off Noll’s Road, outside Loretto.
The urban scene will be the Franklin mills drawn from a picture taken about 1970.
Under each mural will be eight smaller pictures, each measuring 18 inches by 24 inches, depicting the progress of time over the past 200 years, Donoughe said.
The rural pictures will include a view of the Kittanning Trail; a 200-year-old wooden cabin from Beulah, outside Ebensburg; the chapel house at McGuire’s Settlement; Joseph Johns, founder of Johnstown; the county seal; Allegheny Portage Railroad; Daniel J. Morrell of Cambria Iron Works; a settlement depicting the Underground Railroad; and the Kelly Converter of the Cambria Iron Works.
The urban pictures will be of the Mountain House, Cresson; sailing on Lake Conemaugh; rubble from the 1889 flood; the Schwab Estate, Loretto; Robert F. Peary; a coal tipple; a statue of Iwo Jima; Sunnehanna Country Club; and the Colver co-gen plant.
Donoughe said that some of the smaller murals will cross over from urban to rural and vice versa because of the historic progress of the county.
As a speaker later in the celebration, Creany spoke again of the mural project.
“This is our heritage, this is our history, this is our courthouse. What better way to showcase it?” he said.
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/kathymellotttd.