Things are happening on Tilghman Island. In addition to such educational gems as Phillips Wharf Environmental Center and the Tilghman Waterman’s Museum, several new businesses have come to the Island in the last few years joining the Tilghman Island Country Store, Two if By Sea, and the Tilghman Island Inn, bringing more charm to this already picturesque village. New in the last few years are the 1880 Bank ATM, Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island, and 2 Vintage Chics. The Tilghman Island Bakery is currently looking for a location on the Island as well.
According to the St. Michaels Business Association’s page on Tilghman Island, “Not so long ago, Tilghman’s Island was a community with few amenities and no fences – where children roamed freely, neighbors took care of each other, and families bonded together to wrest a living from the bountiful but challenging Chesapeake Bay. It was a community that valued hard work, ingenuity, good humor, and the beauty and power of the natural world.”
To celebrate the unique heritage of Tilghman Island, along with its new growth and diversity, Ginny Cornwell, Founder and Emeritus of the Tilghman Area Youth Association is working on creating a new mural that will be affixed to the Knapp’s Narrows Bridge counterweight, welcoming visitors to experience the Island’s rich history of working watermen on the Chesapeake Bay. The mural is designed by nationally known mural artist Michael Rosato of Cambridge. Michael specializes in designing and painting large-scale murals for public and private spaces.
He is recognized for the recently completed Harriet Tubman Mural, part of the Chesapeake Mural Trail in Dorchester County, and other murals throughout the Eastern Shore.
Ginny Cornwell comments, “We hope that by displaying this mural dedicated to Tilghman’s Island’s roots, we can stimulate the Tilghman economy. The mural will entice visitors to travel to the Island, possibly have lunch or dinner at one of our wonderful restaurants or stay in our hotels and inns. The plan is for the mural to be installed in the fall.”
The Knapp’s Narrows Bridge counterweight, currently dull and weather-stained, serves as a portal and gateway to Tilghman Island. Ginny thought the bridge offered the ideal location for a message to visitors, conveying a sense of history and rich heritage about the community they are entering. The bottom portion of the mural shows the diversity of seafood being unloaded at the docks – fish, crabs, clams, and oysters – with the Tilghman Packing Company in the background. The Tilghman Packing Company was the largest business on the island. There is a boat with no name in the foreground of the mural that will be visible on the bridge as you cross it. The Tilghman Volunteer Fire Company plans to have a raffle of local watermen boat names, drawing the winner in the summer. The winning name will appear in the mural.
The top portion of the mural on the top of the counterweight features local waterfowl looking down from the top of the counterweight with interest in the seafood below and will be visible to visitors waiting for the bridge to close. The mural will be wrapped in a 3M wrap product that will be placed over the newly primed counterweight to protect it. Because the bridge is the busiest draw bridge in the nation, all work on the bridge will need to be accomplished during the night and will take place over several days.
The Talbot County Office of Tourism and Economic Development hopes to film the installation of the mural to air on Maryland Public Television.
According to Ginny, the total cost of the project will be about $50,000. Over the past six months, the Tilghman Volunteer Fire Company has been taking action to obtain approvals from the Maryland State Highway Administration, to get estimates for the cleaning, priming, and installation of the artwork, and writing grants to help pay for the project.
Ginny states, “We have applied for a $25,000 grant with the Maryland Heritage Area Authority, which is to be awarded on July 10 of this year. We are keeping our fingers crossed but these grant funds need to be matched by the funds we can raise for the project.”
Fundraisers had been planned but have been postponed due to COVID-19. To date, the group has received a $10,000 gift and has raised an additional $4,700 from boat signs, which have been hung on telephone poles flanking the main street, and donations from local residents.
Ginny adds, “Because this is such a busy drawbridge, community and visitors alike sit and wait for the bridge to go up and down. The preliminary concept design by the artist for the new mural provides s a glimpse into the rich history of Tilghman’s Island and is a beautiful depiction of our heritage.”
Donations to the project are tax-deductible. Checks should be made payable to TVFCO, annotating “Bridge Mural” and mailed to PO Box 66, Tilghman, Maryland 21671. For further information, call Ginny Cornwell at 410-886-2334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.