Revitalizing Waterbury (RW) announces its fundraising campaign to support the Waterbury Rail Art Project (WRAP).  The purpose of the Art Project is to commission a work of art and have it installed on the railroad bridge at the gateway to downtown Waterbury. 

The idea of creating a work of art for the bridge has been discussed for many years.  Revitalizing Waterbury, the Waterbury Rotary Club, the Town of Waterbury, and the American Legion Post 59 partnered with the New England Central Railroad (NECR) to commission the work of art.  In addition, the Vermont Arts Council awarded RW an Animating Infrastructure Grant to support the project.  “This is the first time the NECR has approved art to be installed on one of their working railroad bridges,” said Barb Farr, Waterbury VTrans Liaison. “We are very excited to have been able to bring this group together to make this project happen and are thrilled that the sculpture will further enhance the significant improvements of the reconstruction of Main Street that begins next year.”

Though significant funds have already been raised, we need an additional $10,000 to successfully fabricate and install the sculpture.  “Investing in public art shows a commitment to our future,” said Sarah-Lee Terrat, an artist from Waterbury. “Public art has the power to energize our public spaces and awaken our thoughts and feelings.  It can transform where we live, work and play into welcoming and beautiful environments that invite interaction.”

During the past year, a Project Team of local residents, artists and business people conducted an extensive search for an artist, and with the help of a community-wide vote held in early November, chose Phillip Godenschwager of Randolph, to create a sculpture for the bridge.  The original, permanent work of art, made of aluminum, depicts historical buildings from Waterbury as train cars, pulled by a locomotive steam engine.  The windows of the buildings will be backlit at night for a very special effect.  The steam engine was inspired by detailed pencil drawings by Merrill Bennett, a patient at the Waterbury State Hospital many years ago.  Some of his drawings are located at the Waterbury Historical Society and have been exhibited at the Vermont Historical Society’s special events.

The work is progressing and will be ready to install on the bridge in August of this year.  The locomotive steam engine, which is 9 feet long and comprised of nearly 100 pieces, will be on display in the window of Stowe Street Emporium. This project will help revitalize and enhance the northern entrance to downtown Waterbury.  “I fully anticipate that people will travel to Waterbury just to see the train,” said Karen Nevin, Executive Director of Revitalizing Waterbury. “It will be a one of a kind work of art that will become a new local landmark for our community.”

Donations are being accepted online.  Donations can be made at:  Or sent by mail to: RW, PO Box 476, Waterbury, VT  05676. Donations of any size are appreciated.  The public will be invited to an unveiling and celebration when the artwork is installed. 

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