Roughly a year in the making, the West Rehoboth Legacy Mural was unveiled to the community during a celebration June 20.
Hundreds of people gathered for the collaborative project created by the Developing Artist Collaboration and West Side New Beginnings Children and Youth Program.
Developing Artist Collaboration founder Leah Beach spearheaded the mural after forming a relationship with West Side New Beginnings founder Brenda Milbourne. As part of the collaborative’s growing footprint, and as a way to secure continued revenue, it opened a do-it-yourself business called Dirty Hands across the street from the large cinder block wall.
Beach said shortly after the DIY shop opened, Milbourne came to her, and expressed her displeasure with the name because it could be interpreted as a bad reflection on West Rehoboth.
Milbourne confirmed Beach’s recounting of the initial meeting. Dirty Hands can’t be done here, she said.
“We cried together, and the same day, the name was changed,” said Milbourne. The DIY shop is now called Out of the Box.
Art is a communication tool, said Beach. Every person in the town, county and state who sees this wall will know the history of West Rehoboth, she said.
Waynne Paskins grew up in another area of Rehoboth, but she visited family in West Rehoboth daily as a child. Pointing down Malloy Street, she said she remembered it being the path she took.
“This was my home,” said Paskins.
The wall was built to separate the community, but now it will serve as a reminder to let people know who was there, said Paskins.
Beach was integral to the mural, but the history of the community was contributed by the Vann family, which has connections to West Rehoboth dating back generations. There were at least five generations of the family at the ceremony.
Antoine Vann said he found family history dating back to the late 1800s when digging through the old belongings of his grandparents after they died. This is 200 years in the making; it just needed a spark, he said.
Antoine’s son Terrance Vann was the artist who designed and painted the mural. The whole experience has changed his mind, he said.
There were a lot of obstacles and barriers to making the mural, said Terrance. Now, the physical barrier is a piece of art, he said.
“I’m just grateful to be the vessel to put the paint on the wall,” said Terrance.
Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton, doesn’t represent the district, but he is running for the soon-to-be vacant seat of Sen. Ernie Lopez, R-Lewes, whose district includes West Rehoboth.
A former state trooper, Smyk recalled a number of times when he responded to calls in West Rehoboth. On the other side of the wall, a lot of bad things were happening, he said.
West Rehoboth is a much different place now, said Smyk. It wasn’t the police or the politicians who made the difference, it was the people who live in West Rehoboth, he said.
It wasn’t just the mural organizers who appreciated the work.
Christina Miller-Hall was standing in front of the mural with her two kids before the ceremony. It’s exciting to see it completed, she said.
Looking forward, the mural is about 90% complete. When it is, individual sections will have QR codes that when scanned will show videos of the history for each section.