Inside Stories

Acre Mural Captures Flavor of Greece

by Dr. Anne Mulhern

Many Lowellians are familiar with Sophia’s Greek Pantry. I have been eating their plain yogurt for many a year and am also a regular consumer of their whole grain koulouria. Perhaps you, too, have a favorite item that you always purchase when you are in the store.

Last summer, the Market Street building received a remarkable new addition: a mural covering an entire exterior wall celebrating Greek culture across the globe and here in Lowell. It is bright and quite striking and I’m afraid I didn’t even notice it until late last year, because when I’m bicycling down that street I’ve generally got all my attention on traffic coming from the right. One day there was no traffic and so my eyes wandered and I was so struck by this mural that I immediately turned my bicycle and went over to take a look.

I had no trouble at all identifying Lowell’s Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church in the middle panel and the building in the leftmost panel is, of course, an ancient Greek temple in the early classical style, not unlike the Parthenon. But what, I asked myself, is that building in the rightmost panel? I had to find out, and so I resolved to get in touch with the artists.

It turns out that this mural was painted by several Lowell High School students under the supervision of Eric Allshouse, an art teacher at the school, and in collaboration with Project Learn and is one of eight murals that were painted all around the downtown area. From Allshouse I learned that the building on the right is one of the blue-domed churches of the Greek island of Santorini, formerly Thera. Santorini is shaped like a crescent moon because more than three thousand years ago the whole center of Thera, which was a volcano, erupted, leaving behind an underwater caldera. So, all the sparkling, sunlit water in the background of the mural is surely a view of the Santorini bay, and the land in the far background represents the smaller islands that survived here and there where the volcano had once been.

The other two panels show figures in vigorous action drawn in a style like that of the black-figure pottery of early classical Greece. On the left is an heroic charioteer from Greek mythology, and on the right two athletes. A more naturalistic Icarus falls unnoticed from the sky.

Each panel is separated from the next by an Ionic column, more fancy than the Doric columns of the Parthenon, but not so ornate as the Corinthian columns developed later. Clusters of bougainvillea, a flower very popular in modern Greece, decorate most of the columns.

So that’s the mural, but how did it get there and how long will it last?

It took the artists, whose names are on the rightmost column, nine days, from initial layout to completing the final details. Here’s a video showing them at work: It went by fast, but I think I caught a glimpse of a cardboard stencil used to lay out the geometric border. The paint is a latex exterior house paint, so the mural should be able to make it through the winter in excellent shape and, since the wall faces more north than south, should not fade too much in the summer sun.

The mural adorns a building owned by Penny Hamourgas, owner of the historic Worthen House Cafe, who pushed for a mural depicting Lowell’s rich history of Greek immigrants and their impact on the Acre neighborhood.

Furthering the Greek connection, it is also located right next to the Olympia restaurant and just a block or so from the Holy Trinity church, the first Greek Orthodox Church opened in the Boston area and the fourth in all of America.


One response to “Acre Mural Captures Flavor of Greece”

  1. Johnny P. says:

    What a wonderful piece of work by the Lowell High kids. Bravo!

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